Concert Reviews

Last Night: Diplo and Cee Lo Green at the Axe Lounge

Diplo, Cee Lo Green
Axe Lounge (normally Rio Room, formerly Suite)
February 5, 2011

Better than:
hanging out in a lounge filled with Axe body spray. Fortunately, this sponsorship was in name only.

Seems the scene at the Axe Lounge in Uptown was quite different from the one downtown at the Bud Light Hotel. There wasn't an especially massive overflow of celebrities at this shindig (there were a few -- Jermaine Dupri, Maria Menounos, Glee star Mark Salling, 90210 star Jessica Lowndes). And, really, the douchebaggery wasn't too obnoxious.

The wait for Cee Lo Green, he of Gnarls Barkley and "Fuck You" fame, was, however, a bit of a drag.

Though billed as a night with performances from both Green and superstar DJ/beatmaker Diplo, it was mostly just a night with Diplo that featured a brief performance cameo from his co-headliner.

And, hey, that was OK.

Green didn't arrive at the venue until 1:30 in the morning or so, and when he did, he only offered a quick three-song performance. No matter: He still gave the crowd what they were looking for -- his offering included "Bright Lights, Bigger City," his Gnarls Barkley hit "Crazy" and, of course, "Fuck You," for which the crowd went absolutely apeshit.

And, to his credit, despite his short appearance, Green still managed to please. As is par for course these days, his performance elicited a massive collection of cell phones being raised in the air to take pictures and video -- and one lucky fan received quite the treat during "Fuck You," with Green grabbing their iPhone and filming his performance himself, singing right into the camera lens.

It may not have been all that the crowd expected, but certainly, it was all that they wanted.

The same couldn't necessarily be said for Diplo's set, which, although absurdly impressive from a technically and stylistic standpoint, never really gained too much traction with most of the crowd, which seemed largely unfamiliar with his work with Major Lazer, MIA, Santogold and the like.

For a small portion of the audience, however, it was quite the thrill. Mostly huddled around the DJ booth where Diplo performed, this set bounced with glee to each beat switch-up Diplo provided. And over the course of his performance -- which started shortly after midnight and continued on after Cee Lo provided him an intermission -- Diplo touched pretty much every base of the electronic music spectrum, mixing in elements of house, dubstep, hip-hop and, yes, even some Top 40 in the forms of remixes of Britney Spears and Far East Movement.

As with every other event this Super Bowl weekend, Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow" made its required appearance in the set, too -- so, too, did a grouped-together selection of UGK tracks and a snippet of "Ice Cream Paint Job" from Dallas' Own Dorrough, alongside other cuts from the likes of AC/DC, Waka Flocka Flame, Prodigy and Diplo's own Major Lazer.

Familiar as these songs may have been, though, Diplo, as expected managed to keep them fresh, employing a whirlwind of pace changes, drum fills and drops to make active his crowd, which, although seemingly largely unfamiliar with Diplo and certainly unresponsive to his pleas to "Make some noise!," was all too happy to dance the night away.

And, really, that was the best part of the night: As crowded as the room may have felt, and as expensive as the drinks may have been ($16 for a Red Bull and vodka?), it was still a largely unpretentious affair, one that afforded local fans the chance to see international music stars in a setting in which they'd otherwise would never be able to.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
This was the show I most wanted to see this weekend -- well, after the canceled Prince and Erykah Badu affair -- and it didn't disappoint. It would've been nice to have have more performance time from Cee Lo, but, given that he more than likely wasn't going to offer up any Goodie Mob tracks, he played the three songs I would've most liked to have seen. And, really: Watching Diplo do his thing from just a mere few feet away, made up for most complaints anyone could've had.

Random Note: Last time I was at this venue, it was called Suite, during the bygone days fo Suite Basement scene, which I kind of miss, actually, even if it meant having to go in the side door and not being allowed to mingle with the people in the upstairs. Oh, and speaking of the upstairs: It's a lot smaller than I remember.

By The Way: I had a brief chat with Jermaine Dupri, who was rocking out and singing along to his Atlanta buddy Cee Lo's performance. I'd assumed he'd have his protege, Sachse's Dondria, by his side, but when I asked him about it, he just shrugged and said he had no idea where she was on this night.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman