By John Mikeska
When Beats Antique brought their “Creature Carnival” tour to Burlington, it was sure to be a wild adventure. The calm before the storm portion of the evening was marked with a unique blend of excitement & anticipation that the hometown crowd brought to the Higher, and hallowed Grounds of this storied venue. After talent contest winner, Erica Miller, took the stage for a sexy celebration of the female form; they decided we’d be ready after a ceremonial breathe cleansing led by the menacing ring leader.
Ready and willing perhaps, but no one in the audience could have been prepared for the impending mayhem.
Out of the gate with the sinister cracklings and languishing low-ends of “Roustabout”, an opener which is undoubtedly in-step with their “Creature Carnival” tour, it was clear Beats Antique wasn’t foolin’ around. The explosion of live drums that dropped the groove into gear was astonishingly powerful relative to the electronic stylings as a creepy, Klezmer-esque, clarinet melody binds this one together irresistibly.
As the dancers work through various stage props, a flying bicycle, and an obscenely large inflatable-panda that apparently engulfs unsuspecting concert goers like it’s going outta style, you get a sense of the level of orchestration and planning involved in the production.
Not to mention the dancers themselves, whose importance cannot be overstated relative to the Beats Antique experience.
During peak ridiculousness, two masked dancers took the stage (and subsequently the crowd) by storm. Notably, one of the dancers (known ostensibly as Evil Kim) ripped off her mask mid-rage with such ferocity that she lost an earring in the process. Backstage and buzzing with energy, she later confirmed that although it was one of her favorite earrings, it was an acceptable form of collateral damage.
After a new track that they recently recorded in Moscow, they dropped “Beelzebub” featuring Les Claypool (on the track; not en vivo). A blistering, bass-heavy number, clearly from the depths of the underworld.
For the encore, the rabid audience summoned their sweaty reserves and set the gear shift high as one eager participant took his shirt off while another radiant concertgoer “danced [their] face off!” in a self-proclaimed “gourd-less” mental state.
Beats Antique performed in a fashion that undoubtedly strengthened the resolve of their devoted fanbase as well as recruited many more to the cause. The unique blend of world influences and high-level production facilitates an experience that’s so sensorily stimulating, it’s irresistible. A sentiment confirmed by Kevin Statesir, Owner of Higher Ground in a moment of inspired dialogue.
Live instrumentation is perhaps one of the more redeeming qualities of Beats Antique. Juxtaposed against the carnival of spectacles that comprise their live shows, the musical talent and deep-grooves keep you grounded while your senses are free to explore the space; providing a one-of-a-kind experience that’s part primal rage dance-party, and part eastern musical excursion.
* Photo Courtesy of our friends in Dallas at Banjos to Beats & Phil Clarkin