OAKLAND — Oakland’s own electronic gypsy outfit Beats Antique filled the Fox Theater Saturday night with upbeat rhythms while also pausing several times to address the Ghost Ship warehouse blaze and the dozens of lives lost when something caught fire inside packed party hosted at the communal artist home and workspace.
Beats Antique, which melds alternative world fusion with electronic music of all sorts, was once associated with artist Derick Alemany, known as Derick Ion. Alemany ran the ill-fated Ghost Ship warehouse as an artist collective and residence. Ghost Ship was hosting an electronic music concert Friday night when it went up in flames, killing at least 24 people in the worst, most horrific fire in Oakland’s modern history.
Alemany was once the band’s photographer and he helped them settle on the name Beats Antique. Alemany was at a hotel at the time of the fire.
The Fox Theater opened with Zoe Jakes twisting unflinchingly in the dark in circles with a lighted globe in her hands, casting lace shadows around the stage while drums pumped up the crowd.
After the second song, “Beauty Beats,” Beats Antiques’ David Satori said, “This has been one crazy, crazy week,” and initiated a moment of silence “for the people in our community who were affected by the tragedy of last night.” People shouted at first but then the entire venue was silent for an extended period of time.
Beats Antique grew out of well-known Burning Man-favorite bands like the Extra Action Marching Band and the Yard Dogs Road Show. They held the audience in captive attention with Jakes’ belly dancing, with a troupe of eight to nine other dancers’ drumming and dancing, and with an Indonesian-style shadow puppet theater. Audience members brought their own battery-lighted poi and spun trails of color during the show.
There were many elements of lightheartedness to the event, which ended with the entire cast and audience singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Satori asked the crowd, “Do you want to jump with us, Oakland? We want to jump to the sky, jump for our friends who died.” The Fox bounced.
Satori, after commenting that this is an “intense time” for Oakland right now, also led the audience into a release of shouting for joy. This outburst was almost as long as the moment of silence with screams, whistles and howling.
The band has been touring the country over the last several months to support their new album, Shadowbox. Their tour concludes this month with shows in Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Despite the high energy and party atmosphere Beats Antique expertly created Saturday, hearts were heavy during the show. The fire was all everybody could talk about in the bars and restaurants around the venue prior to doors opening.
Alemany became an instant social media villain Friday night, even before authorities started counting the dead, by lamenting the loss of his material possessions in the fire on Facebook and not mentioning the victims.
He said: “Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and (wife) Micah were at a hotel safe and sound. … It’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope … to be standing now in poverty of self-worth.”
Although they did not specifically mention Alemany, Beats Antique’s Tommy Cappell said, “Regardless of what happens, tragedy strikes or happiness survives, we all have our hearts.”
Fans passed glass donation jars flanking the exit doors of the Fox Theatre venue, with donations going to the families of the fire victims.
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