Beats Antique - Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale - October 10

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Beats Antique
Culture Room
Wednesday, Oct.10, 2012

Better than: Running away to join the gypsy circus with Mux Mool.

The night began on a sour note. At first, the crowd was scarce due to the rain. When we arrived, LYNX finished her set of belted out originals, closing with some beatboxing magic. To our dismay, Mux Mool seemed another button-pushing remixer. The DJ appeared uninspired and uninterested in being there, like he couldn't wait to get the fuck out. After some humdrum glitch work, a few familiar hip-hop samples, and a Daft Punk-type version of "Love Shack," Beats Antique couldn't hit the stage any sooner for us. 

Then the show opened with an intro so stunning, reality was put on hold.

Life outside of Culture Room was highly irrelevant, and all eyes were glued to the magnificent starlet that took the stage. Zoe Jakes was a vision from the very start, outfitted in a gold and crimson bedleh -- the first of many costume changes throughout the night.

She entered from her own den, a makeshift curtained green room that sat center stage, mounted with a chandelier. The music seemed merely a backdrop to the artist before us. As Jakes undulated and isolated different areas of her body, the crowd went wild, rooting on the seductress. 

Jakes ran to the back of the stage, where she strapped on a black marching bass drum. Tommy Cappel laid down the beats for "Crush" off last month's release Contraption Vol. II. As Jakes and Cappel dueled on drums, multi-insrumentalist David Satori blew brassy notes on his trumpet. The energy permeated throughout the room, and from the high bar to the floor, there was something special in the air -- aside the familiar stench of high-fructose nuggets. 
Boosting the flow was what I like the call the Beats Antique signature song, "Beauty Beats" from 2009's Collide. Chances are, if you've heard of the act, you've heard this song. 

As the trio launched into the Indian-flavored jam, Satori scooped up his viola and began to make sweet strokes, filling the room with his melodic candy. He caressed and lightly vibrated the strings with his bow, creating a throaty, deep mobile sound. Jakes beat the hell out of her drum -- harder than a 300-pound marching band geek releasing high school tensions -- and Cappel held down the fort with a steady foundation of crashing cymbals and modulated beats.

Jakes exited back to her onstage dressing room, leaving a lingering anticipation. The guys spearheaded "Skeleton Key" on their own, and the haunting ballad released bits and bytes of synths that oozed as Satori got to work transforming his banjo from a hillbilly's pluck toy to a masculine power tool. As the track faded, Jakes reappeared right on cue. Glittering in a gold and jewel-encrusted headpiece. She was a sultry Hindu spirit, weaving to the dub-heavy "Colony Collapse."

LYNX joined the trio to present "Crooked Muse," a charming, soulful love song that showcased the vocalist's luring alto. Jakes joined the party a verse in, this time as a sequined mermaid singing backup on a barstool. Her whimsy dissolved some of the initial intensity, as she transformed from a fish to a swimmer, always amusing under the spotlight. "We're gonna play an oldie for you," Satori called, before delving into "Daze" off 2010's Blind Threshold. The classic Beats interpretation was subtle and lovely and laced with bells, but things got especially amazing as Satori began to smack his mandolin with a drumstick. It was one of those awe-inspiring moments, commonplace during Satori's multifaceted delivery.

The show continued onward and upward, sans set break. The stamina presented by Beats Antique was remarkable. "Nesatova" requested audience participation as the trio lead the crowd in a chant. "Hey, Hey, Hey," echoed in the damp air, matching the roar of both the synthetic and the live beats as the trio hit their drums in unison, Santori busted out vigorously on the congas. Following was a brand new ditty, with Jakes clinking her golden castanets. Satori went at it again, like a madman on the melodica, a nifty little gadget that resembled a suave accordion with a mouthpiece, instead of bellows.

Electro-heavy release, 2011's Elektraphone's "Alto," a delicate dubstep-laden track, was enhanced by Satori's handy work on the mandolin, using a bow to bounce reverberating notes. Jakes spun in pirouettes wearing a red mask. As fun as the song name "Dope Crunk" reads, it was just as hip in person. Another staple head-bobber, it was just the boys again for this catchy number that was given some sweetness via Cappel's jazzy drum interlude. "Snarl Axel" had the males play a game of switcheroo, bringing Cappel to the production station, while sending Satori to the drumkit. Rhythmic drumming was layered with spacey synths, sandwiched between Cappel's quick-paced, manipulated melodic work on what resembled a Korg from afar.

For the finale, Jakes made her entry as a doe princess, wearing a blingy antlered headdress and a long white skirt. As the pure chords of unreleased "Pandora's Box" began, Jakes lowered herself to the floor, inflating her trail with air, as she flowed like a theatrical woodland creature, shimmering back and forth in the fragile musical surroundings. Just as soon as it slowed, the vibe accelerated, once again. Satori to his trumpet for "Bus to Balkans" as he told the tale of a traveling gypsy family's adventures through the animation and precision of his horn's wail.  

The encore was everything and more, with the soaring cry of "Hero," its sympathetic strings and instrumental legend. Jakes fluttered about in her final ensemble, accented with a pair of black and blue flapper feathers as she twisted and jerked her final counts. 

Crowd favorite, an uppity "Cat Skillz" closed out the show, and as the familiar beats and strings married, Cappel pulled out his Nacho Libre mask, and Satori ran out, amping the crowd donning a duck's head. Later, a zoo joined them on stage, an enthusiastic clan consisting of a rabbit, a rat, and a deer. Jakes made her own midway cameo in a black and white jumpsuit and a lion head. 

The lioness humped the other animals and then the floor, before revealing her second unicorn disguise. It was bizarre, to say the least. And, It was hands down, the best final show ensemble I've experienced in a while. It was definitely a "what the fuck" moment, but the comedy was divine. Just when we thought it was over, Cappel came back once more and hit the kit as Queen's "We Are the Champions" blared through the speakers. Jakes' lioness pranced around on stage like a Mad Catter. And with the turn of a fader, the madness was over. 

Critic's Notebook  

Overheard in the crowd: "Dude, my arm hair has not come down. I've had the chills the whole time."

Personal bias: I had a soft spot for Beats Antique going into the show, and objectivity aside, there was not one unpleasant part -- apart from Mux Mool.

By the way: It was so great to see South Florida's underground belly dancing society come out and support. Oh wait, it was just a bunch of hippies in bindis. Same thing.

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