Caravan Palace, for those who are unaware, is an electro-swing band from Paris that has mastered their very unique craft and defined the line between music that makes people want to dance and music that forces people to dance. Coming right out of the gate I can say that this show found itself in very tight competition for the most fun concert I have ever experienced. Oddly enough, it also fell somewhere in the category of one of the heaviest shows I have ever seen.
Coming out with an adorable and seemingly innocent smile, Zoe Colotis led the band onto the stage in a poofy black skirt and high heels. The entire band was dressed up as if they just stepped out of a time machine from the 1940s. A good portion of the crowd was dressed up in similar attire and clearly waiting for the dancing to commence.
Coming out swinging (pun was definitely intended), Caravan Palace started off with “Comics” from their newest album. The rhythmic breaks and punching bass on this track really lit a fire under the crowd immediately. Zoe was continuously gesturing for the crowd to give her more energy in between some of the best and most fascinating dance moves I have ever seen. Not only was Zoe’s stage presence just as powerful as some metal vocalists I have seen, but she came out dressed like a badass MC after a few tracks and spit back and forth with Hugues Payen as if she was a veteran of the hip hop community. I saw a spark of brilliance coupled with a bit of goofball in her, reminiscent of Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord. This girl carries a level of confidence on her shoulders that most performers look for their entire lives but never acquire.
As the tracks kept being relentlessly thrown at us, I was more impressed by each and every one. The talent level that this entire band possesses is well beyond anything I was expecting. In my head I thought most of this bands sound was made by a DJ, but honestly more than 80% is produced with live instruments. The band consisted of many versatile musicians playing a plethora of instruments including violin, upright bass, clarinet, saxophone, nylon string guitar, and an abundance of percussive instruments. Some of the members were looping one instrument and immediately sliding over to another. Not only did the versatility really impress me, but the intense talent and precise execution dropped my jaw multiple times throughout the show. I have always seen this band in a similar light to Diablo Swing Orchestra as well. It was actually during “Might Feature JFTH” that I legitimately wondered for a minute if the floor was going to cave in. We were on the second floor and nearly everyone in the building was jumping around like wild animals.
While this is a band that I think you need to see live to fully appreciate, the ability for these guys and gal to flawlessly reproduce the same sounds they make on the album live is unlike damn near any band I have seen. If you enjoy getting dressed up, dancing your worries away, and seeing some incredible musicians attempt to level an entire venue with their celebratory vibes, catch this crew before their caravan passes through your town.