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Hailing from Oakland, Beats Antique is a force to be reckoned with. Seriously. Ask them to describe their music and you will get about 16 genres, descriptors, and world regions. Wanna bet? Try this:
“live electronica and world roots music”
“electro-acoustic gypsy break beat”
“…music of the Middle East, eastern Europe, north Africa and traditional jazz with big bass music”
“orchestral gypsy music with the styles of hip-hop, brass band, downtempo, glitch and dubstep”
They do not play. Challenging themselves “to introduce music and styles that haven't ever met and reinvent the ones that have.”
Beats Antique creates rich and layered music that is so melodic and entrancing, it’s almost palpable. I was introduced to this group during my SXSW band research and was pleasantly knocked the hell off my rocker.
The production trio consists of producers David Satori and Sidecar Tommy along with belly dancer and producer, Zoe Jakes, who inspired the Middle Eastern anchor for the music and brought the group together after being charged with producing an album of original music for her to dance to in 2007.
Their live show really pushes the concept of performance as they play with “traditional and modern relationships of music and dance.” The use of novel live instrumentation also uniquely colors the Beats Antique experience. Holler at a glockenspiel.
The three-year-old collective has been selling out major west coast venues, keeping a stronghold on Amazon.com’s Middle Eastern category number one spot, and is now set to release their fourth album, “Contraption, Vol. 2” this summer, which they call the “most substantial evolution” of their sound. Also realizing the cinematic quality of their music, the group has begun making more serious headway into videos and short films.
Upon you hearing the music, you really have to wonder, still, where does it all come from? Member David Satori notes that for him, “inspiration comes from music that gives me shivers. You know, that chill up the spine.” He also credited his community of music peers in the Bay Area for “endless” inspiration along with some of his recent favorite tunes from Jed and Lucia, Yeasayer, Arvo Part and the Avett Brothers.
All this hype and I still missed Beats Antique at SXSW. I’d even bargained with myself that it was worth it to take a rip-off pedi cab so I wouldn’t miss a minute of the show. At the conclusion of the cab ride, however, I ended up in the middle of the street screaming at the cab driver who was trying to scam me out of even more money, amongst other things. Womp effing womp. To make up for it, Beats Antique recommended I check out this YouTube clip of their antics.
And what was Beats Antiques’ favorite SXSW experience? Obviously the show that I was on my way to see and missed. (Insert more self-pity and loathing). The performance at Stubb’s also featured a sit-in from John Popper of Blues Traveller who ripped “a ridiculous harmonica solo.” Well, whatever, with all your fancy pants-ness, anyway.