La Neve - Live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

La Neve

Live in Philadelphia (2019)

live show

“This song is a drone track about women in technology,” Joey “La Neve” DeFrancesco said midway through the set. La Neve paused and then cracked a smile, “Nah, no it’s not. That’s an inside joke about how terrible Amazon is.” (Earlier in the evening La Neve was heard laughing about how Amazon was featuring a “Drone light show to celebrate women in technology) La Neve paused before continuing with a straight face, “it’s actually about dragging rich CEOs into the street and executing them.”

La Neve, and a live drummer, then snapped into a particularly aggressive dance number, as supplemented by a multitude of electronic gadgets and even a guitar. La Neve is nothing if not freeform. Although the La Neve project was often advertised as “Joey of Downtown Boys does Dance Music,” the live show expanded greatly upon this concept and took what might have been an homage to one genre, and warped it into its own universe.

For one thing, La Neve’s “dance music” is way more aggressive than most music heard in the club. Maybe because the whole thing was in basement, but La Neve’s four-n-the-floor beats really kicked around the room while the Depeche Mode/New Order style synths seemed to drop from above. But, what was more interesting was that while La Neve sang in the classic ‘80s breathless style, that delivery seemed to have a sort of pummeling force. You could compare the approach to the military cadence of singers like Big Freedia and Nicky Da B. But, whereas half the fun of Big Freedia is Freedia literally shouting at you and telling you to do things, La Neve seemed to approach that same level of impact from the biuncy energy created by the beats themselves. They were good beats, I must say. If it was 1987, most of these beats probably could have been licensed to Madonna for a half mil.

Yet, the cleverness of La Neve is that the project doesn’t stop there- it begins there. The live drummer gives these tracks a powerful cadence that makes the live show that much more explosive. Meanwhile, La Neve added buzzsaw guitar lines on a few tracks as well as some other weird electronic effects. The platform might be classic Danceteria tracks, but the substance of the whole thing was genre-mixing and experimentation.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a La Neve/Joey project without Crass style politics slammed in where they normally don’t fit. Except, La Neve made them fit. This might sound like good time music, but on “Stability,” La Neve made the argument that the top one percent keep the bottom 99% lives in chaos to keep them from building up against fiscal oppression- look at how crazy and “instant” the world has become in the last 10 years and it’s hard to argue against the point. In weaker hands, this commentary could make a dance jam either a slog, forced, or a mess. Because La Neve knows economic politics about as well as dance-jams (which is to say, very intimately) these two aspects were merged into political-party-poppers.

Take a look around. If people aren’t rioting in the street by now (and they’re not), then no amount of handwringing or cable news “outage” is going to get them jumping. La Neve knows this and is taking a new approach by wrapping radical Leftist politics into fun time, yet weird, music. Frankly, I’d bet this approach has a better chance of working than whatever CNN is doing.