My concert review of Beats Antique for The Vinyl District
On Wednesday, the 9:30 Club opened its doors to the dubby, world-music-fusion sounds of Beats Antique.
Satori and Tommy Cappel (who grew up in Springfield and gave a shoutout
to his Mom, who was in attendance) provided a seamless sonic tapestry
that was refreshingly organic despite the band’s seemingly electronic
roots. With surprisingly minimal knob-twiddling and laptop-fidgeting,
both spent a lot of time percussively propelling the show forward, with
the flourishes of David’s banjo and violin-playing and a French
saxophonist blending into the mix.
DJ Laura Low opened for the
band, with a lackluster poppy-dubstep-by-the-numbers set that showcased
why Skrillex has a lot to answer for and was especially bad following
the brilliant Forward Festival
this past weekend. Her dubstep remixes of M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” and even
the Cranberries’ “Zombie” were downright cringe-inducing and her own
amped-up demeanor was hardly contagious.
speaking of the audience, there was a heavy belly [dancing-clad]
contingent, along with the well-dreaded Burning Man cohort. In other
words, there was plenty of hair-tossing about ["I whip my hair back and
forth, real or not"], but more on that later.
The show opened with “The Porch” from the band’s 2011 album Elektrafone,
and to their credit, Beats Antique’s musicianship is nigh perfect—the
songs unfurled in a languid yet sonically-sound fashion and none of the
usual concert-muddiness problem was present. They also played “Alto” and
“Siren Song” from Elektrafone, as well as debuting a new more dubstep-leaning song, which was very well-received by the crowd.
band clearly has a keen sense of showmanship; their roots in San
Francisco’s performance art scene and their work on the music for the Bellydance Superstars (with whom Zoe Jakes dances) have influenced the stage show, which is very much carnival/sideshow-esque in its aesthetic.
enough, however, raucous and boisterous are not exactly words I would
use to describe the show last night—despite the consummate musicianship
and the fact that it very quickly started to sound like one long jam
session as the songs started to meld into each other, it lacked a
certain kind of playfulness and just general elan. In other words, this
wasn’t a Balkan Beat Box show and definitely not an Eastern-European
wedding (despite the band’s dabbling in the Roma/Bulgarian brass
elements). In other words, it was oddly sedate. Yes, there was some
dancing in the crowd, but I saw more at the Little Dragon show.
speaking of dancing, Zoe Jakes, a renowned tribal belly dancer who is
considered part of the band, performed almost throughout the entire
show. Some of Jakes’ routines were truly beautiful, such as in the
burlesque-influenced jazz dance she performed with giant feather fans,
or the skeleton-Mexican-Day-of-the-Dead-like routine during “Beauty
At other times, her style, which is essentially a mix of
popping-and-locking (think breakdance) and some of the shimmies and hip
and shoulder isolations from belly dance, is downright snooze-inducing
when viewed for an hour and a half. Jakes’ dancing relies far too much
on her wildly tossing her hair about, and the routines where she
performed with another belly dancer were out-of-sync enough to make a
pre-teen dance teacher cry. No doubt Jakes is a hard-working, seasoned
performer… As to whether it is the kind of performance one could watch
for extended periods of time is a matter of viewer preference.
Antique’s stage presentation is definitely visually unique and
showcases their knack for showmanship. Musically, the band’s palette of
glitch, dub, and Middle Eastern and brass motifs is masterfully
presented in their live show.