It’s a sticky Seattle Saturday night, and outside downtown’s illustrious Paramount theater congregate swaths of young’uns and elderly alike, all there for the collective cause of getting down to some fresh beats. I scan the crowd surrounding the Paramount’s entrance, noticing everyone from candy ravers to…hey…aren’t they that one old couple I saw getting jiggy and making out at that last rave? I digress; the point is, the mystical combination of Oakland’s Beats Antique and England’s psychedelic project Shpongle has brought out Seattle’s most eclectic of folk, and each and every one of them owns it masterfully.
As I’m waiting in line to cross the threshold, I hear the beginning of Beats Antique’s set, and before I know it my body starts to sway involuntarily to the bass. Of course, once inside, my friends and I make a beeline for the bar, only to find out — shit! This show isn’t 21 and over! — drinks aren’t allowed in the theater. Naturally, we stake out a prime spot at one of the theater doors to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Zoe Jakes, and begin to chug. Happily satisfied and unable to resist the dance floor any longer, we toss our cups and head into the darkness.
There’s a magnetism that hits me as soon as I walk through the theater doors, one entirely untraceable from just outside. The energy seems to ignite the building with a low-frequency hum, a vibration that sends soft reverberations through my feet and into my limbs. Beats Antique’s male members, Tommy Cappel and David Satori, jam away on the drums and viola, respectively, while Zoe Jakes writhes around the stage, contracting her torso like a jellyfish opens and closes its bell-like skeleton in the water. The experimental electronic band produces mind-altering, bass-heavy, tribal noise and Jakes’ performance is the visual translation of that sound.
Beats Antique ends with a stunning encore, whereby the whole band and several dancers bounce energetically around the stage wearing animal headpieces. By this time, my friends and I have pushed our way to the front of the crowd and find ourselves perfectly content standing in a cloud of sweat-produced humidity and pot smoke.
It’s only a few short minutes until the lights go dim and the crowd wakes up once again in impatient eagerness for the main act – The Shpongletron Experience. Yes, this is more than simply a Shpongle DJ set. The Shpongletron Experience is exactly what the name implies: a true, sense-invading musical adventure. Atop a massive, empyrean-looking tower animated with lasers, lights, and 3D stage effects stands Simon Posford, a.k.a. Hallucinogen, who spins soft electronic hums that slowly turn into massive, exploding beats.
The Shpongletron Experience later conceives a pair of hula hoop artists who stand on either side of the tower just below the DJ booth at the top, entrancing concert goers with the way their scantily-clad bodies make perfect use of illuminated hula hoops. It’s at this moment Shpongle’s purpose becomes clear: sometimes, we all must forego our inhibitions and feed our hungry souls with fantastical things.
After the show, my friends and I head down the street for a post-dance snack, and throughout the meal, I can’t stop moving and swaying to the music that’s still sounding off in my head. People stare. But I don’t care. Embarrassment emshmarrassment.