After School Special: Indie Electronic Feels – Beat Lab Show Recap
Wednesday, February 21st Beat Lab had its first After School Special of the year, featuring 5 alumni acts who showcased their skills and talents developed during the Beat Lab Certification course. The event was titled “Indie Electronic Feels” to reflect the indie electronic leanings of each act, but the similarities ended there. Each performance was as unique as the next and they all brought their very own style to the stage, this is a recap of the night.
1. The Water Company
Alex Penate opened up the night with a solo act that expanded beyond the confines of Lot 1 Cafe’s stage, it was trippy, man. With nothing but his Ableton Push, laptop, and a microphone Alex put on the mask seen in the photo and became The Water Company. His set floated through experimental hip-hop beats (some made during Beat Lab’s Friday Cyphers) where he demonstrated his finger drumming abilities, on to psychedelic rock songs where Alex grabbed the microphone and wandered around the room. He even made it outside, and said he would have kept walking in the mic cable hadn’t stopped him! Alex’s performance was equally reminiscent of a spaced-out 60’s band, a 90’s hip-hop group, and a modern alt-rock band all performing together under the moniker of – The Water Company. Alex released a record last fall, it’s pretty awesome so check it out here on his Bandcamp page.
2. Empire K.
Empire K. was up second for the night and brought with him the cool swagger that he graces us within his music. Empire K.’s act involves him singing and dancing to his hypnotic electronic beats, they are both sultry and bang hard… pun intended because the music felt sexy. As his set continued it shifted towards more dancey house elements and picked up the pace which engaged the audience further and really got the bodies moving! Empire K. just recently released an EP featuring some of his songs from the night, you can listen to it here on his Soundcloud page.
3. Mikey Backpack
The third act of the night was Mikey Backpack, who followed up Empire K. in strong form and kept the energy alive. His set consisted of a mix of keyboard playing, singing, drum sequencing, and clouds. He had backing tracks carry the parts he couldn’t perform by himself but he carried the performance with his stage presence and positive energy, the crowd felt the good vibes. Mikey’s style is mostly electronic pop/rock but he has a distinct voice that was present throughout the set. The cloud seen in the photo was held by Mikey’s friend who danced the cloud around to the beat of the music, multiple people from the audience said it definitely added to the atmosphere. Mikey is set to release his next EP on April 6th, if you subscribe to his mailing list you’ll get it early. Check out his website here to subscribe.
Fourth up was the duo known as JUGGS. This band performed a fun set with funky basslines, loops, and self-aware lyrics that enhanced the experimental nature of the music. Their music was self-aware in a way that brought just the right amount of attention to the humor in their performance, their lyrics especially (“super cool song” was repeated as the chorus for a song). The duo shifted and balanced their personas equally somewhere between funkmasters and too-cool-for-school attitudes but the dichotomy worked well with their sound. Watch their music video below to get an idea of their vibes.
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The final act of the night wasn’t on the billing but they made it clear that the surprise was worth the wait. The band is headed up by frontman Freddy Spacer and accompanied by Allison Hi Hat Smith (bass, vocals) plus Forest Marchini (drums). The band featured each member playing an instrument in addition to backing tracks. The experience resulted in a funky combination of remixed hip-hop beats and funky dance tracks and climaxed with Freddy setting down his guitar to play a second drum kit off stage, alogn with Allison playing some Toms. It was a fun and funkyalongto end the night on a high note.
Join us at the next Beat Lab Academy After School Special on Friday March 30th at the Hi-Hat in Highland Park!