Swing gets a makeover from Caravan Palace


By Tom Dellinger //

Caravan Palace with Rosin Coven //
The Regency Ballroom — San Francisco
Saturday April 14th, 2014 //

One of the more enjoyable aspects of living in or near major US cities is that we often have the opportunity to see touring artists from all over the world. And on Saturday night one of Paris’ finest, Caravan Palace, made a stop at The Regency Ballroom. Currently in the middle of a US tour, they arrived here after a spot at Coachella and continue with more dates on the west coast, including a return to Coachella next weekend.


Playing to an enthusiastic sold out house, Caravan Palace lit up the room with a non stop bombardment of their unique take on an older genre: gypsy jazz/swing. While instantly recognizable as the venerable genre made popular in the thirties by the likes of Django Reinhardt and his musical partner Stephane Grappelli, this band has brought it up to speed in the new century. The blending of multiple genres is nothing new and has been done with varying degrees of success over the years. However, this band has hit on something more potent than most endeavors of this sort. Dubbing this genre “Electro Swing”, the instrumentation remains close to the traditional: guitar, violin, clarinet, bass and keyboards. But they also employ the heavy use of synthesizers, beats, electronic drums, all used to incorporate elements of electronica and hip hop. All the players, along with their instruments are also using some sort of computer/machine.


What is particularly striking about this is how well this marriage works. In Caravan Palace’s hands, it is overwhelmingly infectious and fun. They had that house pumped; from beginning to end, the fans were in it 100%. In speaking with some during the evening, it became evident they do have a fan base here and many, like myself, knew right away after seeing some of their live performances on YouTube that this was going to be a great band to see. In spite of difficulties with the audio mix she was receiving, vocalist Colotis Zoé still delivered an engaging performance as the fans showered her and the band with appreciation. It was a love fest that resulted in two encores.

Opening for Caravan Palace was San Francisco based Rosin Coven, who describe themselves as “the world’s premiere pagan lounge ensemble.” They were a nice fit for the evening as they offered up their unique look and repertoire.

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