Drummer and string instrumentalist playing onstage

After premiering their live generative arts set Metamorphosis at Red Rocks in 2023, world music masters Beats Antique blessed Colorado with a recent reprise. It was only the outfit’s third time unveiling the AV extravaganza. The audience enjoyed an epic evening of music, animation, and artistic expression.

Denver’s Mission Ballroom hosted the January 20th show, which featured an eclectic group of talented performers. The venue’s state-of-the-art lighting and sound system were a perfect pairing for the creative genius on display. A phenomenal opening lineup kept the crowd entertained all night.

Bringing Together The Beats

For the uninitiated, Beats Antique formed in San Francisco in 2007 when musical forces aligned. Band leader, belly dancer, and sometimes drummer Zoe Jakes had been working with producer Miles Copeland as part of a touring dance company. She partnered with “Sidecar” Tommy Cappel, a percussionist she knew from the Extra Action Marching Band. Multi-instrumentalist and producer David Satori brought his world music experiences to the table.

Satori also formed Dirtwire around that same time. Originally intended as an accompaniment to Jake’s dance numbers, Tribal Derivations was the debut album by Beats Antique. It opened the door for ten more records over the past 15 years.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique belly dances as part of a choreographed group routine while onstage at a concert
Photo credit: Angela Karami

After nearly two decades of making music and performing together, one thing has not changed. Beats Antique are still making cutting-edge music that blends genres and mediums. One thing that has evolved is the touring rotation of the cabal. Joining Jakes’s onstage antics and Cappel’s fierce drumming was Miles Jay, who played exotic string instruments. Satori has pursued various projects, including bringing recording capabilities to under-developed regions. He undertakes these missions in addition to his musical pursuits. After a lighthearted, warm welcome, he joined the fray for the final two songs of the set on violin and drums.

Make Way For The Metamorphosis

What is the mysterious Metamorphosis, you ask? Beats Antique bring an even more optically appealing aspect to an already delightful stage performance. How do they tackle that challenge? With a series of onscreen visualizations and stage lights timed to their dance routines and music, that’s how!

Animated images of ever-morphing beasts – those often associated with spiritual guides, such as the owl and the fox – were one of the elements. Presented along with dazzling geometric patterns inspired by nature, the result was astonishing.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique sticks out her tongue as she plays a drum strung around her hip, with drummer Tommy Cappel in the background
Photo credit: Angela Karami

Move Your Body to the Beats

One of the highlights was a performance by a talented local belly dancer, who received thunderous applause after her number. The band members had special moments as well. The group celebrated Jakes with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” at their first show since her birthday on January 4th. The entire crowd sang along joyously.

During a more sultry number, Jay joined Jakes front and center. He played a string instrument hauntingly with a bow as she belly danced, a shiny veil covering her face. As the music reached a climax, Jakes threw the veil aside emphatically. Her ever-changing wardrobe of extravagant outfits and fantastic stage props were a focal point.

At one point, Jakes reminisced of the time she and Cappel spent with Extra Action Marching Band. Then Cappel led Jakes, Jay, and another female dancer in a tribal-meets-street drumming bonanza with synchronized movements.

Another facet that evoked Extra Action vibes was the spunky cheerleaders who paraded and pounced about the stage on several songs. Bringing a drum-line feel, Jakes often traversed the stage, rhythmically pounding a drum strapped around her waist. Other times, she led intricately arranged group dance exhibitions ranging from serene to sensuous to spirited.

Cheerleaders with pom-pons, Zoe Jakes drumming, and string instrumentalist Miles Jay playing onstage
Photo credit: Angela Karami

If you missed the action or were there and can’t get enough Beats Antique, check them out at the upcoming Rise & Vibes Music Festival at Tico Time Resort in May.

Bumpin’ Like Them Balkans Do

Few artists could have hyped this crowd up the way Balkan Bump did. They delivered a high-energy hybrid live set featuring Will Magid mixing sound and playing trumpet. Joining him was regular collaborator Maz Karandish, AKA Māh Ze Tār, on Sitar, strings, and woodwind instruments. Roaming the stage, their audience engagement and creative compositions livened things up. The circus sounds and zany onstage antics had fans frenzied.

Will Magid of Balkan Bump playing trumpet onstage
Photo credit: Angela Karami

Even after their set, fans got more tastes of Balkan Bump sounds. For the last song of the night, Magid joined the Beats crew onstage with his trumpet. We also got a preview of a new collaboration, which Cappel teased would be released really, really, really soon. It features a Beats Antique remix of a Balkan Bump track called “Desert Drip.”

Getting Things Grooving With Style

The two initial acts of the night brought unique styles and setups to the mix. Kicking off the festivities was the Santa Cruz, California-based producer and musician Krikor Andonian, who goes by Kr3ture.

The talented multi-instrumentalist lit the fuse for the night with his hybrid live set. He built the momentum by moving from melodic trance vibes through poppy dance numbers. His set closed with tracks incorporating sounds of the East and hip-hop beats paired with Andonian’s guitar and sax styling.

Multi-instrumentalist Kr3ture plays guitar onstage in front of his DJ equipment
Photo credit: Angela Karami

Second onstage was production and DJ duo Dimond Saints. The pair are known by the names An-ten-nae (real name Adam Ohana) and Releece (real name Reece Rosenfeld). Their set moved through ethereal EDM, house, and trip-hop moods. Psychedelic waves of screen graphics provided a fitting backdrop for their downtempo, danceable set. Adding flair to the sound fabrication, Ohana utilized a customized Faderfox MIDI controller. The video game controller is modified to handle tasks usually completed at the DJ deck. This freedom allowed him to move around and engage with fans.

Photo credit: Angela Karami

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