In my experience going to shows, I thought I had seen the best and that everything else would just kind of reach that same level and stagnate. Sort of like a plateau for the EDM world, if you will. Caravan Palace and Dirtyphonics both managed to change my mind. These two groups are completely different from each other in terms of genre, group make-up, audience, and they played at different locations. The common factor here is stage presence. The shows that I've been to that really knocked my socks off - Infected Mushroom Live, Modestep Live, Rusko, Flux Pavilion, Borgore - they all interacted with the crowd. Knowing that you matter, feeling that you're more than a participant, that you are actually a part of a fluid, diverse experience happening at that very moment, nowhere else, is beyond comprehension. You can't know what it's like until you are apart of it yourself.
Caravan Palace is an electroswing group hailing from France. This is their first U.S. tour and, based on all the posts on their Facebook page, they're hitting bulls-eyes at venues left and right. The level of theatricality and technical ability within this group is astounding. Seven performers go on stage for every show - Arnaud Vial on guitare, programmation; Charles Delaporte on contrebasse, programmation; Hugues Payen on violon, programmation, scat; Toustou on machines, trombone, programmation; Colotis Zoé as lead singer; Chapi on clarinette; and Paul-Marie Barbier on vibraphone, brushes. And every one of these individuals shines during the performance - and that's really what it is. During their song, Rock It For Me, as the vocals fade into a cacophony of brilliant sounds and the lyrics fade, Zoé and Barbier come to the front of the stage and swing dance. Then, just as the lyrics resume, a stagehand sprints across stage with a mic in hand and passes it off to Zoé a la a baton, and she resumes singing without a hint of bated breath. Payen and Chapi often have musical "exchanges" on stage as they play to each other and create wonderful, wonderful melodies. Chapi is also apparently in charge of getting the crowd dancing, because the Fonda Theater didn't have a single person standing still when he would come up to the front and motion for us all to jump - and we were happy to do it. As a special treat for the show in Los Angeles, Quest Crew, winner of America's Best Dance Crew, made an appearance on-stage and danced during the song, The dirty side of the street. And besides all of this, if you haven't heard any electroswing, it's about time you have. The genre plays off of the old-timey beat of traditional swing music and layers it with modern synthesizers, catchy lyrics, and heavier bass. This is the kind of music you and your mom can both listen to, and I say that from experience. Caravan Palace continues their tour at Lake Tahoe tonight and tomorrow and then moves on to San Francisco on Monday. You can find their full tour schedule below. In the meantime, listen to a mix they put out. Relax. Put your feet up. Get a glass of red wine. And then get the fuck up and dance because that is what this group is all about.
Snow Mix 2013 - Caravan Palace by Caravan Palace
Dirtyphonics, on the other hand, is made up of just four guys on decks - Charly, Thomas, Pitchin and Pho. However, it seems France is doing something right because these guys are French, as well. Nearly pioneering the drumstep genre, along with Figure and Terravita, Dirtyphonics isn't afraid to push the boundaries of what they create, and especially what goes on at their shows. Having already been thrashed around at the foot of the stage during opener Dip Vertigo's set, Dirtyphonics quickly sets up and absolutely surges the sound system with their unique resonance. Playing a set that lasted for nearly two hours, with multiple encores, if you weren't drenched when you came of The Observatory, you were doing something wrong. It disgusts me, and pleases me, to say how wet I - everyone - was. My ears are still ringing as I write this two and a half hours later. Hearing and watching them seamlessly melding trap, drum & bass, dubstep and drumstep into their set was nothing short of mesmerizing. At this particular show, only two of the four were mixing but that didn't stop them from having the full force of the Dirtyphonics name behind the set. As an encore, they played Vandals, a song which they "don't play at shows anymore. But for you guys, we're gonna do it." Mixing that into the newly released Tequila (J.Rabbit Remix) continued to get the crowd moving at well past the hour and a half mark of their set. Playing from 12:00-1:45, these guys STILL had the energy to do a meet & greet with everyone at the merch stand outside and sign shirts and tits. Their dedication is nothing short of remarkable and I'm glad to say I can finally take them off of my bucket list of DJs. That isn't to say that the next time they come through SoCal I won't be seeing them. Trust me. I'll be the first in line. You can stream their latest album, Irreverence, below. And please do the music justice, and turn it the fuck up.
Dirtyphonics - Irreverence (2013) by Dirtyphonics