Self-proclaimed “Funklordz” Chromeo played with a live band for the first time at the Tiny Desk. The duo usually performs their live shows over backing tracks with shimmering chrome guitars and keyboards mounted on mannequin lady legs. David Macklovitch (Dave 1) and Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) met when they were 15 while growing up in Montreal and have been cranking out the electro-funk jams ever since. On being Canadian, P-Thugg announced in his robot voice “it’s very, very cold” to which Dave 1 quipped, “it’s cold… free healthcare.” At first glance, their Jewish and Arab partnership might seem unlikely. But their signature sounds are undeniably infectious, epitomized by P-Thugg’s Talk Box - an instrument that transforms his vocals into robotic sounds.
With a nod to DC’s own funky go-go music scene of the ‘70s, their band was outfitted in go-go-style matching uniforms custom embroidered with the words “Funk Lordz”. The breakdown at the end of the song “Don’t Sleep” was a fitting tribute to NPR’s hometown, Washington, D.C.
The Philadelphia based line-up included keyboardist Eugene “Man-Man” Roberts and legendary percussionists Rashid Williams and Aaron Draper who have played with the likes of John Legend, Jill Scott, The Roots, Adele, and Erykah Badu. Eric Watley filled out the low end with Dave 1 on electric guitar and P-Thugg on bass, rounding out the sextet.
The band played three tracks from their fifth album, Head Over Heels. They tossed in the backbeat-thumping “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” from 2014’s White Women in a medley that opened the energized set. Listening to Chromeo is a joyous affair. Watching them get funky with a stellar band behind The Desk for the very first time, it’s impossible to sit still.
“Count Me Out/Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”
Dave 1 (Vocals/Guitar), P-Thugg (Bass/Talk Box), Eugene “Man-Man” Roberts (Keys), Rashid Williams (Drums), Eric “E-Watt” Whatley (Synth Bass), Aaron “A-Drape” Draper (Percussion)
Producers: Abby O’Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri, Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Cameron Pollack/NPR