You can tell a lot about a band by looking at their audience. As the crowd trickled in early Tuesday night to the Newport in Columbus, the wide array of influences bestowed by Beats Antique could be seen reflected in their followers: festival-goers donning the latest in glowstick technology, leather clad Danzig disciples, aspiring bellydancers, and a substantial amount of 40-somethings of various Indo-European descent.
Much like their audience, the “Animale Mechanique” show put on by Beats Antique was remarkably unique as far electronic music performances go. It stood out from any other acoustic, visual, or dance performance I’ve ever seen, for that matter. The word “eclectic” comes to mind, but I’m not sure it does justice to what i experienced. A combination of acoustic Eastern European instrumentation and 808 drum machines, glitchy samples, and belly dancing would deem this show more worthy of the “Performance Art” category.
The show started out with belly dancer/frontwoman Zoe Jakes doing a dance routine to a minimal bell percussion loop. As her performance moved forward, drummer “Sidecar” Tommy Cappel and multi-instrumentalist David Satori came in, adding dirty drum machine rolls and violin phrases, until finally bringing in the full array of samples and loops along with the more dramatic side of the light show. With the addition of a live drum-kit to the already big-room sound, the atmosphere took on a dramatic, almost movie-trailer feel to it.
As the 2-hour set rolled on, Jakes changed into different elaborate outfits according to the tone of the music, and Satori got more and more experimental with his plethora of instruments in constant flux. At one point, Satori was playing a banjo with a drumstick filtered through a wah-wah pedal while Jakes danced behind a blank projection screen, her silhouette accented by a large headdress and other bulky but elegant accessories. I also heard melodica and trumpet from Satori, and a dueling drum feud between him and drummer Cappel. Other highlights of Jakes’ dance display included a mermaid love song with opening act Lynx, crystal-clad deer antlers, and a giant white linen dress puffed up by a fan (Marilyn Monroe style) with blue polka-dotted lights projected onto it. The audience was constantly receiving new forms of stimuli as the live performance progressed.
The band upped the tempo toward the end of their set in logical fashion, flexing more of their EDM, post-dubstep muscles for the kids. For one of their cinematic finales, they covered BassNectar’s “Voodoo” and brought out the super hype lights to reveal a sea of people jumping in unison. By the end of the show, the band was prancing around in animal masks, along with some of the better dancers in the crowd who were brought up on stage to join. Top it off with confetti canons and you’ve got yourself an awe-inspiring experience.
Below are a few favorites from the group’s latest EP entitled “Contraption Vol.II”
The first track is number four off of the eight track EP and it’s truly a beautiful one. It’s sort of drunken rhythm will have a crowd swaying side to side as if they were an old western saloon hanging out with Tom Waits. The smooth sung vocal harmonies drive the song along as they are accented by perfectly timed strings and raw acoustic guitars. The song’s title “Crooked Muse” should give you a good idea of the song even before listening. You may find yourself singing along by the time the chorus comes along.
The second is actually the next track on the EP and it shows truly what group can do production-wise. The track entitled “Hero” is a perfect mix between the past and the present, the analog and the digital, the live performance and the studio. It opens with beautifully crafted string harmonies that have so much emotion in them that you cant wait for the beat to drop in. As the complex percussion comes in, there is a equal mix of organic sounding drums and chopped audio to give a nice EDM accent. As the song flows through the groups complex arranging style they continue to build up until such an epic synthesized drop with an incredible tremolo synth mixed with the pre-existing instruments. This track is truly a remarkable composition that accurately depicts, as they put, a ‘Hero’.
more photos c/o Vince Frascello can be found here