Chromeo, Vic Mensa light up the Riviera for A&O Ball
  • Vic Mensa performs at A&O Ball.
  • Chromeo performs at A&O Ball.
Photos by Carolyn Betts / North by Northwestern

Turn down for what? Hundreds of students turned down for this year's edition of A&O Spring Ball, which featured electronic duo Chromeo as the headliner at Chicago's Riviera Theater.

Chicago rapper Vic Mensa took the stage first, with a short set consisting of songs from INNANETAPE (including hit "Orange Soda" and "Holy Holy"), new songs and heavy party jams to get the crowd going. He rapped about everything from threesomes (before which he apologized to his mom, who was in the crowd), to violence in his hometown Chicago, all the while complementing his smoothly-flowing rhymes with laid back instrumental grooves. He certainly showed why he's such a hyped up-and-coming act, who will be getting his first shot at major stardom as a featured act at Lollapalooza this August.

To end his set, Mensa parted the purple sea by dividing the crowd in two, prompting each side to go wild when he asked. He accomplished his task of getting the crowd fired up and ready for the subsequent dance party.

Chromeo took the stage behind their famous leg synthesizers and led the crowd in an intro chant of their band name in what was one of the coolest aural and visual assaults. Even though the crowd began largely unresponsive and quiet, the "Funklordz" (Dave 1 and P-Thugg) got to the students through dance jam "Come Alive" and upcoming White Women song "Sexy Socialite." At that point, there was not one person standing still for the rest of the show.

"This is the first time in a while we've played a college show," Dave 1 commented. "I can see y'all are good at grinding with your girlfriends, you're good at clapping along to the beat, and you're good at responding whenever I say the word 'pregame.'"

Along with the stunning stage set-up and creative light show, what makes Chromeo so great is their mix of throwback funk (Hall and Oates style grooves) and modern glitz and glam. Dave 1 used his reflective guitar to good use, shining light on dancers in the crowd while shredding away, while P-Thugg played through his famous vocoder set-up. The defining point of the set was new track "Jealous (I Ain't With It)," which is quickly becoming a lot of critics' choices for a potential song of the summer thanks to its take on modern pop. Soon thereafter, they closed with fan favorites "Fancy Footwork" and "Needy Girl" and returned for an encore "because the Blackhawks won," which ended the night with a powerful rendition of "Don't Turn The Lights On."

Thanks to the energy of Vic Mensa and the grooves of Chromeo, a beautiful day ended with a beautiful dance party.


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