This one time, at Burning Man, Suze Q invited me to help find her bike. There was nothing in the galaxy I’d rather have been doing at that exact moment (and that’s saying a lot, considering my whereabouts). Suze is an uber-talented, LA-based entertainer; stilts, fire, dance, choreography and nonsense are just a few of her specialties. Justin Timberlake, Rhianna, Peaches and Hugh Hefner are all clients on her resume. Anyways, following a number of distractions (to be expected) including Portland’s March Fourth Marching Band and an interactive, touch-sensitive monitor installation, we hoofed it to a geodesic dome known as Nexus so Suze could perform with her friends Beats Antique. Apparently, the person who was originally supposed to join her failed to show; I was conveniently available to fill in. We strapped on white gas masks and scaled Funktion-One speaker stacks.
I can’t pinpoint the specific moment Beats Antique appeared on my radar, but I can guarantee Bassnectar is to blame. Several years ago, he added his signature whomp to their tune “Roustabout,” then invited them to join his traveling circus for a Left Coast jaunt or two. More recently, Les Claypool roped them into his own roadshow. Burn night with Suze Q was my first time experiencing their live act, normally consisting of two producers/laptop DJs (David Satori and Sidecar Tommy)–one of which peppers sets with both Middle-East-influenced violin and sitar-sounding guitar–and a tribal belly dancer named Zoe Jakes. Witnessing them work several hundred Burners into a solid groove from atop a Funktion-One speaker stack was unforgettable. Upon learning of their Monolith booking, Beats Antique’s third stage set at Red Rocks last September quickly became a must-see. They’ve since become a playlist fixture in my yoga teacher’s Friday morning class at pH7 Pilates.
Last night, Beats Antique warmed up a sold-out Lotus show at The Boulder Theater. Although I personally prefer Zoe and company to Lotus’ “livetronica,” I think Beats works extremely well as an opening act, as much of their music is on a downtempo wavelength similar to Thievery Corporation. Stage capacity allowed for a full drum kit this time–a definite upgrade. Having a belly dancer as a full-fledged member of their touring lineup is definitely a plus, but I get the feeling music fans don’t always appreciate her quite as much as the belly dance community–Zoe had to cue the audience for feedback at least once last night, even though her tassel-rattling belly flutters and full-on popping were both top-notch. Spoiler alert: Beats Antique’s set closer generally involves masks, mostly animal ones. A belly dancer in a full bull mask is undoubtedly a strange sight, but watching her stage fight with a horse-masked David Satori is entertaining nonetheless.