Over the past few years, Beats Antique‘s prolific tour schedule and consistently solid performances have made them a stable act at major festivals, including Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Coachella. By now, even the newest of fans come ready to move their bodies at one of these Beats shows. The crowd winds and twists like a sea of gypsies in tribal rhythm, then abruptly stomps, fists in the air, when the dubstep beat drops.
Thankfully for the non-goers of massive fests, the talent of David Satori, Tommy “Sidecar” Cappel, and Zoe Jakes is still accessible as they tour city-to-city, all pleased to revisit their roots with smaller-scale performances in more intimate venues, like the clubs & theaters of San Francisco where the band first began to play in 2007. Last Thursday marked the trio’s return to La Zona Rosa, where they last played in October 2011. For both the fans who have been a part of the band’s incredible journey since day one & for festival newbies who haven’t yet partaken in an intimate night with Beats alike, this is an event to anticipate and savor, as it’s completely different from their festival performances when you can really get up close.
Opener Egyptic’s perfomance easily paves the path for Beats, whose performance fuses eastern strings & rhythms with heavy rock & dubstep breaks. One quickly finds their eyes lock upon the tantric presence of Zoe Jakes, relishing in her Austin homecoming with the welcoming devotees winding and swaying throughout the crowd. Women are immediately responsive to the rhythmic, organic movement of her dance, and men to the hedonism she incites. At the close of the opening song, the trio has spindled a web of seduction with Zoe in the center, wrapping and enrapturing her entangled and entranced audience. In a large outdoor space, one sees Zoe as a rock star, owning the stage and leading her dancing troupe. But within the dark confines of La Zona Rosa, she is truly a siren claiming all within her catacomb. Even the bartenders in the back are helpless against the rhythm, bouncing & pouring to the music.
Following their hard-hitting opener were several memorable performances in which the trio moved through the multiple genres & facets of their music. In her mask routine for “Alto,” Jakes literally showed the crowd two different faces in a mesmerizing sequence of spinning, adorning her mask, and spinning again to reveal her true face. It’s an eerie portrayal of possession and duplicity. The mask routine shows to the crowd that the band is not out to get them with their music, but are simply as possessed by it as the fans, and have mastered its performance.
Showcasing new music from their 2012 mixtape release “Animal Mechanique,” the band delivered a performance of their remix of “Colony Collapse,” a track originally composed by bass producer Filastine (and featuring Nova). With the addition of glitchy drum samples and live banjo & violin from Satori, the trio transports their audience to a spectacle of Indonesian theater.
Taking center stage behind a backlit curtain is the mischievous Jakes, wearing an intricate songket headdress, yet to be revealed to the audience (although her transformation is apparent enough by the ornate silhouette). The dancing is playful and the mood light. If you haven’t yet given this remix a listen, “Colony Collapse” is what a hookah bar with MIA and Lykke Li might sound like.
Perhaps the most spellbinding performance of the concert was “Allure,” a song with haunting bells playing slowly atop melancholy strings and unnerving tribal screeching. Zoe arrives to the stage wearing a bejeweled antler headdress, shrouded in low violet lighting. With each deliberate step toward the audience, the light begins to brighten and we see a white dress billowing around her, rising and falling as it moves with strings attached to her wrists. She appears to be evoking the goddess of the hunt in winter; her pale skin appears as ice beneath the blue lights.
After all of Beats Antique’s success playing to thousands in large-scale festivals, it was a treat to see their act up close and personal on the “small stage” with hundreds of young and weird Austinites. The concert concluded with a crowd favorite, “Cat Skillz,” and a troupe of masked fuzzy animal heads led in dance by president Bill Clinton. The whole gang left the stage to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and many joined in song within our very own Austin Bohemia.