By Emily Kendrick – Copy Desk Chief – firstname.lastname@example.org
People from all walks of life ventured out into the night last Thursday to experience the orchestral freak show known as Beats Antique.
The trio, made of the belly dancing/drum banging Zoe Jakes and musicans/producers Tommy Cappel and David Satori, took the audience on a very intentional trip through their “A Thousand Faces” touring show.
The concept for their most recent album, A Thousand Faces – Act I, comes from Joseph Campbell’s idea of the monomyth, or hero’s journey. With the audience members playing the role of the heroes, Beats Antique simply provided the arena in which the audience could roam and explore.
The night started out like any other show at The Orange Peel, with Don Winsley as the opener who effectively warmed up the crowd for Ill-esha, who played second. Ill-esha, a female producer and vocalist, set the stage for all the “girl power” the audience would soon witness.
As The Orange Peel began to fill up for the sold out show, the audience’s anticipation for Beats Antique’s new projection-mapped stage setup became obvious. When the house lights went down and the stage lit up, the audience released every bit of anxiety and yielded to the sounds to come.
Starting with “Overture” from the new album, the show began slowly and gracefully compared to past Beats Antique shows, which tended to throw the audience right in the middle of the action without letting up for more than an hour. It was clear the trio was building up for something huge. The beginning was simply the exposition of this narrative.
With Jakes at the front of the stage enticing the audience with her beauty and graceful movements, she seemed to be playing a role in an epic; she was the siren. Only hours before the show began, she taught a belly dancing class at Studio Zahiya. Oh, how things had changed.
Playing mostly songs from the new album until the end, the trio astounded the audience with what sounded like world music mixed with bluegrass, dub, electronica and even ska. For the new album, the group enlisted guests such as Primus vocalist/bassist Les Claypool, singer/songwriter/beat-boxer Lynx, and Sarod player Alam Khan.
After the first couple of songs and multiple costume changes for Jakes, the action got going with “The Approach.” The song sounds much like the name implies, like encountering something mysterious and potentially dangerous. In came the familiar heavy percussions and blaring horns all Beats Antique fans know and love. Down the road a bit, the audience met a giant blow-up cyclops bear-like creature, something even Homer could not have fathomed.
Next on the journey, the audience came upon a carnival game show.
“Clap your hands, you filthy animals!” demanded the announcer. “Ladies and gentleman, you have a chance to win tonight eternal damnation, everlasting life or unlimited bandwidth and one year’s free technical support.”
Jakes then brought an audience member onto the stage to participate in the twisted circus, which soon turned into an all-out dark dubstep freak show, complete with maniacal laughter and cats meowing in the background.
By this point, the audience was in a frenzy, but some fans wondered when they would see the artworks they submitted for a contest Beats Antique ran a few weeks before. This came soon after, and the stage transformed from a variety show of sorts into an otherworldly hellish place made of distorted and monstrous faces with gaping mouths created by fans. As the audience flew through the faces, Cappel and Satori played “Pandora’s Box.”
But what would a journey be without meeting the devil? We can thank Les Claypool for playing that most important role. In came the dark twangs of Claypool’s bass, and as if that wasn’t enough, his creepy and distorted voice.
“Beezlebub is my name!” he repeated in an increasingly warped and frightening tone.
“Beezlebub” proved to be one of the audience’s favorite tracks from the night, as scarily humorous as it was.
Toward the very end of the journey, the audience began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and Beats Antique helped rejoice with the playing of some recognizable old favorites such as “Egyptic” from their 2010 album Blind Threshold. The audience danced as if they’d seen their home for the first time after embarking on a treacherous and deadly adventure.
Unfortunately, that adventure soon came to an end, and only once the house lights came up and the stage lights went down did the audience remember they hadn’t actually been to all those mystical and magical places, they were at The Orange Peel all along.