When Nile Rodgers and CHIC performed at Fantasy Springs on Saturday night, he expressed concern about the setup inside the Special Events Center.
“It’s weird to see everyone sitting; it feels like being in a classroom,” Rodgers told the crowd about a quarter of the way into the band’s set. “CHIC is a dance band; feel free to move around.”
Sadly, CHIC did not perform to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night, but those who were in attendance savored the chance to enjoy the legendary disco-era band responsible for a slew of hits, such as “Le Freak” and “Everybody Dance,” which have earned front man Nile Rodgers a place in rock ’n’ roll history, and led him to collaborations with artists such as Daft Punk.
Some fans who showed up early got the chance to meet the man himself when he stepped out from the backstage area and began to mingle. As I stood behind Rodgers, patiently waiting for my turn to take a selfie, the compliments were all similar: “Thank you so much for all the great music over the years,” sentiments which humbled Rodgers as he shook fans’ hands.
As for the show … it was fantastic.
The band started with “Everybody Dance,” which was followed by “Dance, Dance, Dance,” and “I Want Your Love”—an epic start, considering all of those are well-known CHIC songs. They wasted no time throwing out the hits.
“I have the best day job in the world,” Rodgers said, noting that he’s worked with and produced many well-known artists. “I’m just going to ego-trip and play all my own hits.” The band then played a medley of some of his produced tracks, starting with Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” Sister Sledge’s “He’s The Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family,” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” sung by his incredible backing vocalist, Kimberly Davis.
Before he played “Get Lucky,” his collaboration with Daft Punk, he announced that six years ago, he had been diagnosed with cancer and was told to “go home and get his affairs in order.” He said that instead, he recorded more music than ever, played more shows than ever, wrote his autobiography—and then received a phone call from Daft Punk asking him to collaborate. He said he was proud to announce he was cancer free now.
Toward the end of the show, CHIC drummer Ralph Rolle commented that while some people were dancing, there were still too many people sitting down—but that they wouldn’t be sitting for much longer. The band then started Rodgers’ produced hit for David Bowie, “Let’s Dance”—which got just about everyone who was still sitting down on their feet.
Of course, CHIC played “Le Freak,” but closed the show with “Good Times,” which featured members of the audience who were invited up to dance with the band.
People say that Disco Demolition Night in 1979 at Comiskey Park in Chicago killed disco. Perhaps it did—but it did no such thing to Nile Rodgers, who is still standing, making hits and kicking ass live with CHIC.