Middle Eastern beats are historically notorious for spurring great dance music, and in the 21st century, it’s no different story. Contemporary electronic music is becoming increasingly interlocked with technology and reaching past boundaries formerly not even imagined. Space is disappearing between these two categories of new and old, and one band is reforming them into something oddly harmonious.
Beats Antique is a band breaking new grounds and putting a whole new spin on world music. The band was formed in San Francisco in 2007 and has been garnering a large following since. Comprised by only three members, these musicians have a knack for mixing new concepts with traditional Middle Eastern belly dance music.
David Satori, a student of composition and music performance who spent time globetrotting around Nigeria experimenting with tribal afro-beats is a master of many instruments including viola and bağlama or saz, a long-necked stringed instrument that resembles a cross between a lute and a banjo.
Drummer and percussionist, Tommy Cappel, studied New Orleans style jazz at Berkley and was also influenced by free music jams in New York City.
Another unique addition to the band’s sensory-loaded live performance is their belly dance show performed by professional dancer, Zoe Jakes, whose style is a mixture of traditional Indian Kathak and Middle Eastern dances, break dancing, and hip hop.
All together, the members mix many different influences, musical backgrounds, and instruments to create a new style of music that truly reflects the times; technology is shrinking the distances between concepts that were previously unable to come into contact. Dubstep meets live instrumentation with an incredible amount of dynamism and performance. With only three members, they’re nowhere near short on sound and mix together samples of hip hop and old school jazz into their acoustic music. Somewhere, these all merge together to form something like “Folktronic.”
The band is currently on their Blind Threshold tour, titled after their most recent album. Their tenth show of the tour was at the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, M.A. The basement windows shook with the band’s mix of styles as the dark venue filled up to maximum capacity for a sold-out show.
The set list kicked off with probably one of their more well-known songs, “Beauty Beats,” a catchy display of the bands eclectic talent.
The band’s repertoire included a good mixture of both calm and hard-thumping, energizing songs that kept the night interesting and like their sound, constantly evolving. Jakes’ belly dancing only spurred on the bouncing crowd that was full of all types of people from the grungy hippies, to the more reserved, to kids swinging glow sticks.
Accompanying the band for a song and some freestyle beat boxing was LYNX who joined the band for “Rising Tide,” a more R&B-influenced track off their new album. John Popper of Blues Traveler also had a spot on Blind Threshold, contributing harmonica to “There Ya Go.”
Towards the end of the show, the group donned masks and went all out, giving the crowd a theatrical stage show, ending the night on an incredibly high note.
This was definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to, hands down, and from the looks of the crowd outside the venue post-show, I wasn’t the only one with these sentiments. Do yourself a favor and check out Beats Antique.