LIVE REVIEW: Beats Antique At Belly Up Tavern
February 23rd, 2011 - Wednesday’s sold out crowd at the Belly Up Tavern was an impressive showing for experimental fusion group Beats Antique. For those not acquainted with Beats Antique, the band is a project produced and arranged by unorthodox belly dancer Zoe Jakes. Drawing from the musical emphasis of her famed dance style and other genres, the band serves as an eclectic desert bazaar where jazz, dubstep, and even Javanese Gamelan can be procured for musical travels. While the bands reputation has preceded them due to the provocative gyrations of Jakes, a live performance of the band may have you thinking that the exotic hybrid they created is much simpler than you might think.
The night’s openers consisted of locals Inspired Flight, a two piece not exactly embracing the same amount of diversity in their music as the headliner. Nonetheless their conscious meandering of layered guitar over classics such as Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” seemed to pass on with no objections from the crowd; overall standard warmup fare, OpenOptics' solo DJ set in between his band and Beats Antique seemed to get the crowd even more enthused than his own group.
Beats Antique’s live performance consists of two players besides Jakes’ own dancing and drumming. David Satori serves as the group’s chief electronics guide. When not hovering over a laptop and a myriad of effects boxes, Satori doesn’t balk at picking up a viola or lute to form the bands only organic instrumentation other than drums. Drummer Tommy Cappel sits above the band on a raised platform, the foundation of the band's dance tempo formula.
The band’s set began with the trio’s live blended drumming syncopation eventually breaking off into the members' normal roles. Jakes, marching drum clad, strolling the stage in serpentine movement, Satori shifting between laptop mixing and sultry strumming of various string instruments. What is brought to life live by Beats Antique can seem like a small portion of what is actually occurring on the recording, mainly there is a large vacuum of flavorful programming spilling out of Satori’s laptop that is barely experienced. This gives the band quite a transparent feeling being that the band's unique touches of obscure instruments and samples are only electronically reproduced.
Despite this perceived lack of authenticity, the sold out crowd applauded song after song of dance step with far eastern overtones, revolving from Arabic to Indian -- a sign not only of the band’s growing popularity, but an example of the willingness to embrace xenocentrism within the musical sphere as well. Beats Antique will perform at the 2011 South by South West music festival.