Even without the beignets, po’boys, or steaming pots of gumbo, Philadelphia was able to taste the full-flavored robustness of New Orleans on Saturday evening thanks to The Head Banga Tour that made its way to the TLA. The show featuring all NOLA acts was headlined by Tank and The Bangas and included performances from Big Freedia and Naughty Professor.
Prior to the 9 p.m. start time, concert goers waited patiently and amused themselves by bopping to the Lekeli47 jams bumping through the speakers of the South Street venue. Without much of a wait, the six-member Naughty Professor sauntered onto the stage. The crowd, who was mostly there to see Big Freedia and Tank and the Bangas, almost instantly had a positive response to the blaring three-piece brass section as they worked through a set of New Orleans style Jazz, a little bit of swing, some blues, and a hint of heavy metal that came from dark and accelerated finger work of guitarist Bill Danield.
After another short break, Big Freedia’s DJ, DJ Juane Jordan approached the stage and began to spin top 40 hip-hop. After a few songs, members of Naughty Professor made their way back to the stage and began plugging in equipment. The audience appeared to be a bit confused, but once an announcer asked if everyone was ready to see Big Freedia, it became apparent that Naughty Professor were not only openers but Freedia’s backing band. After the sextet seemed to be ready to go, three dancers in checker-print bodysuits and black sweatpants entered stage right and began stretching and flexing. Shortly After the towering Big Freeida made her way on stage, the crowd let out a deafening roar.
Big Freedia and her dancers maintained a high level of energy while performing songs like “Karaoke” and “Gin In My System” amid twerking breaks (of course), shoulder bounces, and mid-air splits. At one point in the evening, Big Freedia invited ten members of the audience on stage for a group twerk session. At the end of Big Freedia’s performance, DJ Juane Jordan played Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” where the entire venue sang every word, sometimes unsuccessfully hitting all of the high notes. This was followed by a bounce version of R & B singer K Michelle’s now-viral video of her screaming at a young woman to “get the fuck off of [her] porch.”
FInally it was time for the main act – Tank and the Bangas. The band, as they usually do, sauntered to the stage without much fuss or ado. The background singers, on the other hand, had an outstanding presence thanks to the giant panda heads that they were wearing. Moments later, founding member and lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball graced the stage silently with an air of regality. The powerhouse vocalist and spitfire rapper offered the audience animated expression and moments of milly rocking while performing tracks like “Spaceships” and “Quick.” The set was a big progression of energy, with spacey jamming, introspective spoken word poetry, and high-energy party rockers. Towards the end of their set, well after midnight, Big Freedia came back out draped in a fur coat, accompanying the headliner on a cover of OutKast’s “B.O.B.” that had the crowd screaming in joy.
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