Oakland, California’s Beats Antique take world and modern dance music to a different plane. This is a somewhat trite thing to say when it’s been said so many times before, but this time it’s real. I’ve written about Beats Antique before, but seeing them do a full set in the proper environ was not something I was thinking would ever happen in SLC. Thankfully, they made it to The Depot and knocked it up and out. Most bands recreate their recorded sounds live and nobody gets too worked up about it. Beats Antique has a visual element that makes their performances distinctly different, though.
There’s a reason a dancer formed the group. Zoe Jakes had the idea for Beats Antique a few years ago and collected some talented multi-instrumentalists to help fulfill that vision. “Vision” is a precise term in this case: the staging of the dance numbers and the encore are all carefully orchestrated by Jakes and her two backup dancers. Their routines—featuring three dancers connected by ropes, old-school hollywood bellydance dresses, and feathered fans which hide and reveal Jakes—are the part of the Beats Antique experience that can’t be recorded or explained. Patchouli in the air and clear evidence of steampunk and burner influences abound at every Beats Antique show I’ve been to, and that is part of the experience as well.
Seeing (and smelling) a crowd so electrified and wildly dancing is a pleasing thing when many of the concerts I attend in this town are full of people too-cool to sway or shake. Not the case at a Beats Antique show. Thankfully not the case when Angela Brown is around, either. She found a few of her bellydance-inclined friends to watch the concert with, and being around them to see and hear their interpretations of the styles Jakes and her crew bring was enlightening.
Jakes at SXSW 2011
Proppers must be doled out to the two guys in the group who bring up the rear in Beats Antique—literally. The other members of Beats Antique, David Satori (a main composer) and Tommy "Sidecar" Cappel (drummer), hang out on opposite backends of the stage while Jakes dances. They tour with a horn player, too, and he was manning a verified baritone sax and what I believe to be a soprano sax—both really stunning instruments to watch and hear. Satori plays a synth, violin, drums and what might possibly be an electric bouzouki at different times. Main percussionist Cappel and Satori traded off at points in the performance which makes it a little more interesting than watching them play alone. Sometimes Jakes isn’t on stage during songs, whether she’s changing or letting her other dancers take the stage, and those moments feel empty. This is why Beats Antique needs to be seen not just heard.
Last, and not least, the group’s encore was stunning. The last songs they played had elements of synchronized dancing/drumming by the ladies, plastic animal masks on everyone, and the live version of a Glitch Mob remix of “We Swarm” from Glitch Mob’s Drink The Sea Vol. 2 remix album the groups just released—which made that encore one of the best things I’ve ever fucking seen.
We Swarm (Beats Antique Remix) by The Glitch Mob
Enjoy the dubstep, bellydance, world, tribal, electronic hybrid of Beats Antique live whenever you can—you’re welcome in advance.