drwex (drwex) wrote,

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We saw Beats Antique and we probably won't again

A group of us made the trek to House of Blues this week to see a four-part show headlined by Beats Antique. The two opening acts were OK but forgettable. The reasons I was there were Shpongle and Beats Antique.

I realize that I've been listening to Shpongle since 1998 when their first album came out and this is the first time I've seen Postford live. He did not disappoint, putting together a tight 45-minute set that opened with an "Are You Shpongled?" favorite and wove older and newer material together. I'm not as fond of the newer sounds as I am of the original world-influence psytrance that he more or less pioneered but it's still highly danceable, interestingly mixed, and worthwhile. I feel like some kind of faux hipster for saying "Well, I really liked him better back when..." but there it is.

And that brings me to Beats Antique. This is the fourth time I've seen them and I have been increasingly disappointed with each new show. Beats Antique built its initial reputation on two things: Zoe Jakes' incredible dance and traditional Middle Eastern-influenced bellydance music, and the infusion of electronica and crunk rhythms into the music. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about or don't think this is possible, go listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql4HcdLyYac )

Jakes has the moves and the body to sport a variety of amazing costumes, from a tight latex cat suit to a 1920s-era inspired ballgown. Part of the fun of a B.A. show is watching what she'll wear and how she'll make the costume part of the act. Right, so this is hipster me talking about all the older stuff I liked - what was wrong this time?

Starting with the previous tour, Beats Antique decided to put on more of a stage show. They released (effectively) a dual album "A Thousand Faces" that drew heavily on Cambellian mythic organization - the title is obviously derived from The Hero With A Thousand Faces and the show involved a lot of props and production. The music was... OK, but the show was kind of hit and miss. I felt like a lot of the stage props and effects overshadowed the band and frankly wasn't that interesting. I've seen this story before and there wasn't enough novel in their retelling of it to make up for missing what I like about Beats Antique-that-was.

This time around, they're doing something they call "Creature Carnival" and introducing music with much more overt circus styling. They've also reprised a couple of the Thousand Faces pieces, which kinda sorta fit with the new theme but also kinda sorta don't and the whole ends up being jarring and not particularly fun. There's an attempt to get the audience involved, with masks and creature dances and such but even in a fairly open and friendly venue like House of Blues it felt forced and flat. I enjoyed about 1/3 of the new stuff and the rest just didn't do anything for me. Also, they really need to cut it out with the strobes and bright lights in the audiences' eyes.

I suspect this kind of thing will go over well at outdoor festivals and Burning Man but as a club show it's now drifted over to the "do not want" side of the line.
Tags: beats antique, music, review, shpongle
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