The Scene: The weekend before Halloween is the defacto celebration date when the official holiday falls on a weekday. There is always plethora of celebrations going on providing a vast array of opportunities for partygoers. Out of the myriad of choices Beats Antique this year seemed to me like the proper way to celebrate All Hallows Eve.
Beats Antique and Halloween were made for each other as both offer the chance to shed the normalcy of our society and let your freak flag fly. Colfax and the downtown area was overflowing with costumed people and excitement welled up in me as I approached The Fillmore. The line-up offered a broad swath of music from Dubstep to Hip-Hop to the eclectic grooves of Beats Antique. It seems customary to wait in a long line whenever I go to the Fillmore, and in the winter time it is almost a rite of passage as party goers earn their stripes by shivering while slowing meandering towards up the sidewalk. Fortunately The Fillmore greets you with warm open arms as you walk in. Purple chandeliers line the top of the venue adding an old timey vibe which was only enhanced by the world grooves of Beats Antique.
Opener: Minnesota. As I strolled into the venue in my clichéd “Dude” costume, Minnesota (Christian Bauhofer) had begun to warm up the chilled crowd with his Purple Dubstep variations. Minnesota is an ascending producer and live act that paraded the summer festival circuit and has collaborated with big name EDM acts such as Bassnectar and Martyparty. His stage presence is delightfully dorky with his glasses, curly red hair, and twitchy dance moves. The music is bass heavy in nature but accented with melodic piano laced interludes and solid technical DJ work. Minnesota has created a unique sound by integrating high, ripping, synth heavy purple music influences with classic Dubstep and Drumstep rhythms.
His set featured remixes of classic Hip-Hop songs by Notorious B.I.G and Tupac which provided a nice segue into Zion I. The pace was fast and the already half full venue was responding well to the music. Opening a show is a delicate art, one of not stealing too much thunder while being in synch with the energy of the crowd. Minnesota definitely showed a deft hand and left the crowd energized and excited for the following acts.
Opener: Zion I. The genre hopping line-up continued with Zion I. While I like Zion I’s albums, the magic of a Hip-Hop show seems to be lost on me. Hailing from Oakland California, the Zion I crew spits heady lyrics accompanied by live beat making and production by Amp Live. Amp Live took the stage first and put on a short introduction of classic Hip-Hop beats that evolved in to bass thumping Dubstep tones. It was a nice way to start off the set as it showcased the backbone of Zion I’s music.
After about ten minutes of straight beats, the master of ceremonies, Zumbi, took the stage and began weaving his tapestry of lyrics. The content of their music is grounded in philosophy and spirituality and though some of the lyrical content seemed to be lost, their stage presence was composed and impressive.
The only gripe I had with the performance was the extended call and response sections. For example, “I say ‘HO,’ you say ‘hey!’” A small dose of that generally brings the crowd into the performance, but Zion I did it a little too much for my taste. The highlight of the set was when Amp Live left his DJ station and came to the front of the stage with what I can only describe as a MIDI keytar. It had the general shape of a guitar but where the strings usually are there were buttons and knobs. He performed a five minute improvised section, which was a unique and impressive display of beat making.
Beats Antique: As I referenced earlier, Beats Antique and Halloween are a match made in heaven as both offer the opportunity to shed normalcy and get your freak on. The stage set up was fairly basic – no large LED screens or fancy lighting rigs – leaving Zoey Jakes and her harem of sensual dancers would provide the visual entertainment. Beats Antique blends live theater and music in a most unique way. It is Vaudeville, Persian belly dance, and Burlesque all rolled up by the broad world-electronic music they create. The crowd was giddy with excitement and people pushed past to get a closer view of the action as I stayed to the right side of the soundboard (thank god for being tall.) The trio took the stage clad in black spandex unitards with skeleton bones and at that point I knew that things were about to get weird…in the best way imaginable.
The set got of to a slow start with the gentlemen providing ambiance through jammy grooves. David Santori, who plays a multitude of instruments: violin, banjo, trumpet, keys, and drums, is the leader of the show. He is an extremely talented musician and MC. During the spacey sections he wailed away on the banjo, coaxing out Jimi Hendrix-esque sounds from the ole five stringer. The ladies on stage had the crowd hypnotized with their well-choreographed cinematic dance routines. As the set moved on it struck me that their sound was reminiscent of the bar scene from Star Wars Episode 4. There are seamless transitions from classic instrumental music into heavy bass thumping and it kept the crowd moving as the band oscillated between genres.
Most of the scenes that took place on stage can’t really be translated into words. Complex theatrical performances including dancing mermaids, giant squids, whirling dervishes, and Sir Mix-A-Lot style ass shaking created a spectacle that unearthed a broad range of responses from the powerful and gripping to the downright hilarious. Beats Antique certainly does not take themselves too seriously and that sentiment rains down on the crowd. The costumed freaks that surrounded me were all smiles and laughs creating a beautiful ambiance in the Fillmore. The highlight of the set was when local singer-songwriter LYNX took the stage for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole lot of Love.” Her vocals perfectly matched the cries of Robert Plant while the band reinvented the classic.
Beats Antique is one of those bands that you simply must see live! Their albums are well produced and have a lot of beautifully mystical sounds, but you lose the theatrical performance of Jakes and her beautiful dancers. The musicianship is tight and their sound translates extremely well from album to the stage.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B+