Beats Antique at the Aggie
By: Hen Benerman
Sick Beats and Belly Dancing. A bit unusual for the uninitiated, but for fans of Beats Antique, its all part of the draw. On September 14, 2018, the Oakland-born experimental electronic fusion group graced the Aggie Theater with their singularly carnivalesque style. They were also supported by the surprisingly impressive Bassline Drift; all of which came together to make a truly awesome show.
While I have admired Beats Antique from afar for some years now, this was my first chance to see them perform live in concert. If you haven’t already guessed, I was not disappointed. The group was opened by Bassline Drift, a relatively new electronic duo consisting of Keli Marks and Racheal “Sink” Lindsay. The two of them managed to skillfully blend trip-hop with drum and bass to create some really pulse pounding music. I could tell the two of them had never been to Colorado before as they commented on the altitude no less than three times. It is always amusing seeing non-Coloradoan musicians experience Colorado altitude for the first time, like a weird little in-joke among the music junkies of the front range. Despite their discomfort, the two of them rocked the crowd for the entirety of their thirty-minute set. After the concert I went back and listened to some of their catalogue, and honestly, their live act takes the cake. They have impressed me enough to say I will follow them and their music into the future.
Bassline Drift was a pleasant surprise but Beats Antique still proved themselves the main event by a wide margin. The three musicians of Beats Antique: David Satori, Sylvian Carton, and “Sidecar” Tommy opened with a song off their latest album Shadowbox. They were soon joined by the talented Zoe Jakes and her equally talented backup dancers replete with costumes out of an old burlesque show. They departed when the song was over, and the three musicians continued with more fare from Shadowbox. Every other song, Zoe and her dancers would return (much to the delight of the audience) in a new costume for another incredible display of belly dancing. I never had much to do with belly dancing before this. I had never even seen a real belly dancing performance; but honestly, after seeing them dance—I had never realized that the human abdominal muscles could move like that. Their dancing and outfits alluded to everything from 1920’s women’s’ fashion, to ancient Greece, to even the far east. Even when the dancers left to change into their next costumes, the lack of visual spectacle was never an issue. David, Sidecar, and Sylvian are such talented musicians that they can easily rock a show themselves. Beats Antique may be described as an electronic group, but they certainly favor good-ole-fashion musicianship. Even if you prefer the simplicity of playing instruments over the calculated beats of electronic music, this group has both in spades. They tend towards more exotic instruments like the Saz, or even the Hammered Dulcimer for past albums. They are reminiscent of Devotchka in that regard. The group covered both material from their latest album as well as their mainstay hits. I was pleased to hear the old favorites “I Got…,” “Crush,” and “Extra Extra” in the mix. While I am admittedly biased towards this group and their music, the crowd demanded not one, but two encores. Something that the group almost never does. In short, if you want a great time with some finely crafted world-fusion music, then Beats Antique should be at the top of your list.