The Beta Band were FUCKING AMAZING live

I just got back from a show in New York by The Beta Band, which KICKED MY ASS. I mean, wow - they were awesome. Their album Hot Shots II is pretty muted and laid-back, but their live show really ripped. For those of you not in the know, I’m not really sure if these guys would have much appeal to the usual prog audience - they use a lot of hip-hop-ish beats, dreamy multitracked vocals, and electronics that range from spacy to grandly symphonic to just plain weird. In general they’re one of the more difficult bands to categorize that I’ve come across lately.

If you’re familiar with Hot Shots II, the band closed their main set with “Squares” and “Broke”, and they turned both of them into full-out rockers. They opened their encore with “Al Sharp”, which was as beautiful in concert as it is on record.

One of the neat things about this group is their versatility: while ostensibly the group consists of a keyboardist, a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/vocalist, all four musicians jumped around to different instruments numerous times. One of my favorite moments was in the third and final song of the encore, in which the guitarist played a second drum set so that the music consisted of a really intricate percussion tour de force, with weird, almost Ozrics-like electronics issuing from the keyboardist’s position and agile bass lines snaking through it all.

So, yeah. A damn good show. I’d like to say that The Beta Band is one of the more creative indie-rock groups out there today, but then, I’m not real familiar with a very wide range of indie-rock, and also, I don’t even know if they’re really “indie-rock”. I guess that probably means they’re pretty damn creative, in any case. Yeah.


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