A mid-evening show on a Wednesday night seems a bit early for a electronic show, I thought as I pulled into the almost empty parking lot at Terminal West. I smiled at the attendant and asked him if they are expecting a lot of people. He shrugged “You know this kind of crowd doesn’t really like to come out until the sun’s been down awhile. This is certainly a true statement. As I walk towards the venue, a kandi kid passes me all black and beads, he seems in a hurry to move on. I am a little sad to see him go, I’m pretty fond of rave kids, they always bring a lot of color to a show.
I walk into bright lights and a lot of open space, I know it’s a little early, but this is disheartening as the incredibly talented livetronica duo Bells and Robes is playing their hearts out to a crowd of maybe 40 people spread throughout the room. I’m always biased when I see instruments on stage though. The combination of a DJ and live instruments is brilliant when done well, and Bells and Robes do it well.
The duo, named from a Zen koan, plays dreamwave. By combining up tempo bass rhythms, and ambient synth-heavy tones, with live keyboard and drums, they are able to create a totally dance worthy set that is both relaxing and stimulating. The live instruments also give them a dynamic stage presence which adds to their energy. This is my first experience with dreamwave specifically and I am rather impressed.
The crowd begins to trickle in more towards the end of their set and by the time Jack Beats hits the stage there is a modest audience. What they lack in numbers they more than made up for in intensity. I have rarely seen a crowd so engaged with their artists right off the bat. Plus One and Beni G, the two DJs that together are Jack Beats, worked the audience with an easy grace that makes their experience and talent obvious. They have a reputation for diverse music and a drive towards constantly creating new and ever changing sounds.
Based in house music, the duo draws influences from hip-hop, to drum ‘n bass, sampling everything from pop to reggae during their sets and constantly maintaining a heavy bass that keeps the crowd shaking. They play with glitches, bass wobbles and basically whatever else they feel like throwing in. It is easy to see why they are such heavy hitters in the scene. With extensive resumes as solo artists and remixes for Diplo, Major Lazer and Florence and The Machine this bold pair leaves little to be desired in the way of talent or bravado.
Their show was one of the most intense I’ve seen, with people almost never leaving the dance floor or even checking phones. Couples grinding against each other, while the rest of the crowd thrashed and jumped, shaking their hips and yelling along with their favorite samples. Lights played over them creating a surreal patchwork of writhing bodies, a response to a performance that never let up for a second.
Jack Beats will continue their Work It Tour across the US to promote their latest EP that you can check out below.
Photos by Kellie Clarke