Faster Than Sound: BabiBoi's Spitfire Soundtrack for the Club and Beyond

Ballroom rapper joins the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce's Pride in Local Music next Saturday, and more music news


Raising the bar: BabiBoi at Cheer Up Charlies (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The spitfire, highly danceable musicality of BabiBoi developed alongside their founding membership in the House of Lepore. Before the house made waves as a harbinger of the growing ballroom scene in Central Texas, BabiBoi and matriarch Natalie "Ms. Girl6" Lepore connected in a former San Antonio-based performance group called the Plastik Collective. At the time, San Antonio native BabiBoi studied theatre at UT-Austin.

Among burlesque dancers, drag artists, photographers, and more, the seasoned performer began making original music.

"Mother was obviously the voguer of the collective, and I started making hip-hop," recalls BabiBoi. "Then, in 2020, Mother decided that we were going to start the House of Lepore. A few of the members of the collective followed, but it was really just me and Mom, and now we're a ballroom house. We'll be at an event and look at each other like, 'Damn, can you believe?'"

Recent landmarks include the first official ball at South by Southwest, as well as the Legendary Mother Natalie Lepore's Majestic Cabaret Ball last weekend at the Paramount – where BabiBoi competed in sky-high heels. The musician adds: "A lot of big kiki houses expand even out of the U.S. We're out of Texas, but I feel like one day we'll be universal and have Lepore chanted across the world."

Since their 2018 start freestyling over Nicki Minaj songs, BabiBoi has grown a formidable catalog of darkly endearing, sex positive singles across the realm of bouncy club beats and electronically intensified raps. An upcoming set at Pride in Local Music, next Saturday outside at the Long Center, will ring in new single "Boyz 2 Men." The percussive self-empowerment anthem, out the day before the festival, pinpoints the artist's relentless flow in their first release since 2020. BabiBoi promises to show their softer, emotional side on further singles ahead of a debut LP.

"I'm hoping audiences will think, 'Maybe BabiBoi is more versatile than I imagined,'" they add. "I think of the project as a mixtape – some house, hip-hop, trap sounds. I started out making dance music just because I was booked at clubs, but these days people are asking me to perform for day festivals and I can't really perform that same dirty, hard rap. I'm like, 'Wow, I need to make more pop.'"

At the Long Center, BabiBoi plans to invite a few Lepore sisters to dance onstage, as well as San Marcos guest musician Maikéru. (The two collaborated on the track "Legends Only" last year.) Expanding in the booking realm, BabiBoi also recently launched a monthly live music showcase called Queue'd Up! with excellent picks Ayo Tamz and Thelonious Love. Next month's roving iteration takes place July 1 at Coconut Club's connected Neon Grotto, which happens to be the artist's birthday.

"There's not a consistent show in Austin that has queer musicians every month, so I've been wanting to do that and bring in different genres," they said. "It was the first show that I've personally hosted, because usually I do things with the House. I DJ'd for the first time – mostly femme hip-hop and gay rappers."

Pride in Local Music

The Lawn at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside
Saturday, June 25, noon-9pm

The daylong Pride in Local Music party leads with America's Got Talent finalist Brian Justin Crum and BeBe Zahara Benet, the first-ever winner of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2009. Caleb De Casper brings prismatic pop tones from latest Femme Boy, while Pelvis Wrestley celebrates addition to the roster of Birmingham label Earth Libraries. Presented by Dell Technologies with the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the lineup also includes Tje Austin, Bleached Roses, and Julie Nolan. Tickets start at $34 at prideinlocalmusic.com – with a $129 VIP Deck also hosting Tina G and Melissa Carper. All proceeds go to the Chamber's Education Fund.

The Dicks' Gary Floyd Talks Lifelong Creativity and New Austin Exhibition

Dicks bassist Buxf Parrot, alongside Todd Kassens and Walter Daniels, played the opening party for Gary Floyd's new art collection last Saturday. Due to health issues, Floyd wasn't able to make it down from San Francisco, where he relocated after founding seminal Eighties Austin group the Dicks as one of the first openly gay singers in hardcore music. The show at Austin's Prizer Arts & Letters gallery will be open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5pm and by appointment until July 9.

The Chronicle gave Floyd a call, where the gay icon offered wisdom on lifelong creativity, sobriety, chosen family, and more. Dealing with trouble walking due to diabetes and congenital heart failure, the 69-year-old still hopes for an Austin visit soon. He said Prizer Director Carrie Kenny picked the exhibition title "Maybe We'll See Butterflies" from an artistic statement he provided. Read the full Q&A on our Daily Music blog.

"It sort of hippies me up a little bit, right?" said Floyd. "What good punk rocker would ever call anything after the loving butterfly? I'm glad to break all those molds and not be too sealed into any one idea. So, hippie butterfly, let it be. It's that stubborn, hardheaded Texan part. I'll say I'm a hippie, but if you say I'm a hippie, I'll say, 'Well, wait a minute now, I'm a punk rocker.' And if you say, 'Well, okay, you're a punk rocker,' I'll say, 'Wait just a minute now!' It's always fighting the titles hung around your neck."

Crosstalk


Together Vol II marks a "Juneteenth house & soul music takeover" for two nights at Eastside wine bar Lolo, also home to snacks and vinyl-spinners. DJ Shani, aka citywide turntable presence Shani Hebert, presents as the Groove Temple – her longtime radio show birthed on Chicago's WLUW 88.7FM, now residing monthly on Austin's Shared Frequencies Radio. The Chicago native invites prolific underground presence Demarkus Lewis (Dallas) and exploratory Deep Addiction host Tobi G (Atlanta/Chicago) to kick off this Friday, June 17, 7pm-12mid. The next evening pairs Tobi G and Shani, 5pm-12mid.

Belle and Sebastian played Stubb's last Saturday, spanning their catalog, including an acoustic snippet of "Lord Anthony" at fan request. Lead Stuart Murdoch despaired at not being able to invite fans to dance onstage, but hand-held with the front row anyhow. He recalled a visit to Austin's Angelina Eberly statue, and said his friend Ramesh Srivastava of Voxtrot told him about "lead singer disorder" (LSD) in a podcast conversation that morning. Prior, London-based SXSW standouts Los Bitchos employed Austin's Ryan Fitzgibbon on rhythm guitar (and shaker). The former US Weekly player joins the UK band's shapeshifting cumbia-inspired rock for a month of touring with the headliners.

Triple-digit days could threaten outdoor summer music. The Austin Symphony Orchestra canceled an ensemble performance, planned for 7:30pm Sunday evening at the Hartman Concert Park in front of the Long Center, "for the safety of our musicians, their instruments, and our patrons ... due to extreme heat." The free Concerts in the Park series continues this Sunday, June 19, with a string quartet. Waterloo Park also altered last Saturday's schedule for the daylong Rainbow on the Creek celebration to include an "event break" from 2 to 6pm due to the extreme heat.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

BabiBoi, Gary Floyd, Juneteenth, Belle and Sebastian, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Natalie "Girl 6" Lepore, Pride in Local Music, Pelvis Wrestley, Caleb De Casper, the Dicks

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