Beats Antique

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

Experimental Electronica Group Belly Dances into Ft. Lauderdale’s Heart – Review of the Beats Antique Concert at the Culture Room in Ft Lauderdale, FL

Photos and Story by: Gleb Barabanov

Oakland based group Beats Antique brought their fantastic live show to the intimate halls of the Culture Room this past Friday for a unique night of worldly tunes and amazing performance art to the grand gratification of the massive audience gathered to see them. The already small venue felt unusually small this time around, as the group amazingly sold out the venue before the show even started, with many fans showing up in belly dancing garb, steampunk costumes, and other interesting outfits to show their support.

The first opening act was a DJ named Bit Deff. A Jacksonville native, I had not heard of his work before that night but he pulled off a killer show, expertly infusing his tracks with the tribal flavor to keep the mood of the show consistent with the main acts. His tunes warmed up the crowd that was filing in on the late Friday night, and by the time his set was over he had drawn in all the people that were outside killing time to check out his set.

Hailing from Atlanta, the experimental duo Bells and Robes took the stage next, enticing the fans gathered below with an interesting take on traditional electronic music. Instead of just using a laptop or a beat maker to play his drum loops, percussionist Dean Spaniol instead uses a electronic drum kit to to display a full array of drumming chops otherwise not playable with a regular drum machine, and together with keyboard maestro Luke Sipka the group exhibited a unique style of sonic landscapes that went over very well with the crowd.

By the time Beats Antique was about to enter onto the stage, it was almost impossible to move inside the venue because it was so tightly packed with die-hard fans waiting to see the show of their lives. And as the lights went down, excitement came over the audience and they cheered with aplomb as producer and lead performer Zoe Jakes bounced onto the stage, flanked by two dancers holding umbrellas. As the rest of the band got into positions, the music suddenly began, and their intricate boogie began. Zoe and the rest of the dancers began to spin, shimmy and sway along the stage, performing a complex choreographed dance that was one part Burlesque and two parts musical Chicago, colorful props and all. All the while, drummer Tommy Chappel and multi-instrumentalist David Satori were jamming out in the background, maintaining a funky beat for the ladies to dance to.

While their music can best be described as “trip-hop with a middle eastern vibe”, they incorporate and incredible amount of different styles and genres in their playing, as well as utilizing a number of different instruments at every live show. Since their songs are very open to improvisation, this results in a vastly different show ever time, ensuring fans never see the same thing twice. After every few songs, Zoe and her troupe of entertainers would leave the stage to change costumes while the band continued playing, re-entering with a new type of costumer or routine, with everything from belly dancing to choreographed drum playing being represented by the multi-talented dancers.

The show was a massive success, with many people telling me as they left the venue that they were planning on driving to catch them across the state in Pensacola the next week because they had such a good time at the concert. Here’s hoping they come back to South Florida sometime soon.