Last weekend, the Fillmore Auditorium hosted a show celebrating visual art and music. The strong lineup of artists attracted enough people to sell out the sizable venue, making it one of the must-see events of the weekend. Musically, the event was driven by fusion-type bands - bands that blended together multiple genres into something new, usually blending a traditional form of music with electronic music. Visually, the event was supported by legendary psychedelic artist and painter Alex Grey, who not only supplied artwork for visual projections, but he and his wife each completed a live painting throughout the duration of the show. There was plenty to see and to hear - just what one might expect from a show of this size.
Saturday night began with opening performances from Lynx and The Nadis Warriors, as well as time allotted for Alex Grey to speak to the crowd and demonstrate some of his artwork. I was unable to make the opening performances, so I can not speak for them, but seeing Alex Grey in the flesh and his characteristic art style not only on canvas but projected and animated on an enormous screen on the stage wall elevated the mystique of the evening and certainly gave a feel of surreality. The projections were definitely out of this world; vivid, colorful and enthralling. When the larger-than-life projections moved in sequences it was certainly a trip, and it was cool seeing a painting take shape in real time.
I did get a chance to see Tipper, the project of British producer and DJ Dave Tipper. Tipper was situated inconspicuously in the middle of stage, surrounded by a near over-stimulating amount of visual support to go along with his jamtronic influenced psychedelic music. Behind him was a large projection screen mentioned before that would switch between crazy colorful visuals and visually effected live imagery. Before him was a slew of various dancers - mostly a small troupe that performed pop-lock dancing, but also some other dancers as well. The live imagery came from taking video recordings of the dancers as they performed, running effects over the captured video to make it look like the dancers were colorful scribbles, and projecting that up onto the screen to create an artistic shadow effect - something pretty cool to see and a unique concept.
|Dancer, Tipper, and Alex Grey|
Meanwhile, Tipper was behind the decks, mixing a seamless set of his original productions. His music was less infused than the rest of the performers from the night, but there were some strange and quirky samples that seemed to come from folk and blues that set his music apart. Tipper's sound was an eclectic blend of electronic styles, sometimes as far out and experimental as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) but mostly more on the dub and drum and bass spectrum of electronic music. He incorporated a lot of twangy samples and heavy bass without being over-the-top wompy, keeping the audience in a steady groove throughout his set while making the audience's appetite steadily grow for the main attraction.
|Dave Satori of Beats Antique|
Finally, it was time for the main attraction to take the stage - Beats Antique. It was the first time I got the chance to see them live, and although I expected to see a lot of cool things, I really had no idea just how dramatic it would be. Beats Antique was essentially a three-piece band accompanied with belly dancers and other stage dancing - with occasional percussion support from the dancers. Drummer Tommy Cappel was situated up high on one side of the stage, multi-instrumentalist David Satori on the other. David Satori controlled the computer programmed accompaniment while adding banjo, fiddle, a little turntabilism and some percussion to the mix. Between them was guest performer Sylvain Carton on baritone saxophone and clarinet.
|Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique|
The three opened up the night setting the mood of the venue opening with Beats Antique's signature electronic-bellydance fusion style. As the music began, all eyes were on the impressive lighting display and colorful Alex Grey provided psychedelic background projection, but it didn't take long before someone else completely stole the attention of the entire crowd. From the side of the stage emerged Zoe Jakes in a teasing mask and traditional bellydance garb. She slowly moved to center stage and began to do her style of bellydance - a mixture of traditional bellydance and other styles of dancing. As soon as she made her way on stage, she set the tone for the whole evening - a sultry dance fest.
|Tommy Cappel of Beats Antique|
Beats Antique's unique combination of bellydance music with electronic music breathed new life into both genres, creating a product that was as seductive as it was danceable. Naturally, the bellydance portion of the music was responsible for the sexiness factor, while the bass heavy and dub influenced electronica kept the crowd busy on the dance floor. The music, of course was the underlying driving factor of the whole performance, but it was the extras that really made the whole experience stand out and become memorable.
|Lynx performing with Beats Antique|
Zoe Jakes never returned to stage in the same outfit. After her opening bellydance, she returned in a patterned jumper wielding a large bass drum. Then her and a couple other dancers would emerge from time to time in a variety of old-time circus-like or perhaps Vegas-style outfits - feathers, masks, even a strange caterpillar-like costume. Beats Antique also brought back opener Lynx to perform "Rising Tide", ending with some impressive beat-box work from Lynx.
Beats Antique definitely knew how to put on not just a show, but an all out production. Knowing that the majority of their music is produced via computer, it was great seeing how they put it all together live. Tommy Cappel was pretty impeccable on drums throughout the entirety of the set, bringing about extra pop to the live sound. Sylvain Carton was incredible - his baritone sax was the main source of heavy bass throughout the whole set and he exhibited keen instrumentalism with his clarinet as well. David Satori layered in some sound with his instruments, but his contributions never really stood out, usually being dominated by the Ableton-driven computer controlled accompaniment. The drumming from Zoe Jakes and other stage dancers were somehat puzzling though - they seemed to be drumming on time but you couldn't actually hear what they were doing over the speakers - almost making it seem like they were drumming just for show. Nonetheless, it was more than I expected from a band that relies so heavily on computer production.
Beats Antique performed a variety of songs from Blind Threshold and their newly released Elektrafone to keep the night of music flowing. They also treated the crowd to a completely new song which David Satori said was the very first time the song was ever performed. For an encore, they performed bellydance-infused remixes of Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob, and ended with an original piece that truly went all out on the surreal side of things - as everyone on stage donned various masks and proceeded to dance wildly.
Beats Antique was a very unique and awesome experience - what they do is so different from much else it is hard not to be completely entranced when you see them. Being in a sold out show helps too - the crowd was incredible, many also coming dressed up in an array of costumes to go along with the sultry musical theme. Beats Antique has wide appeal - electronic music fans, especailly fans of bass, dubstep and jamtronica will be attracted to their sound, but so will those interested in world and bellydance music. Go to a Beats Antique show for the music, and leave with an eperience even greater than what you bargained for.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page to stay up to date.