To properly bring in the New Year on Chicago’s near south side the Chicago Urban Art Society hosted two stellar acts; The Loyal Divide, and Keys n Krates. The Loyal Divide took to the stage pre-countdown and, as they usually do, correctly got the party going in what was an enjoyably open medium sized room decorated with oddly interesting likenesses of Mayor Daley. The Loyal Divide are, usually, a four piece band – although they frequently like to ask for the participation of others within their live shows and recordings. Loyal Divide describes themselves as Electro / Psychedelic / Rock, which is an accurate description. However, one can’t help but prefer the drummer’s (“Thundarr”) labeling of their sound as “psycho-pop!”. Because while they are quite experimental, and push the envelope of electric-psychedlia, they always do so in a way that is still rooted – or at least quasi-rooted – in a universally appealing sound.
For this celebratory evening they stuck mostly to material off of their up-and-coming LP, “Bodice Ripper.” They seemed to be remarkably in sync this evening, playing their material with the normal dose of hallucinatory aspects, but with an added emphasis on their cavorting grooves – which was well played as people on NYE usually want to party. Of particular notice this evening was the number Vision Vision (the music video, produced by BBGun is below), which featured an impromptu rap from the MC of the evenings ceremonies. Having never heard the Loyal Divide with a rapper, one was taken aback by how natural and intriguing this addition sounded within the electro-wails that make up the background over which he rhymed. Another stellar addition was that of a saxophonist, who sat in on a number of songs. Perv Fury and Baladron were two songs in which this addition really stood out, as the sax would sometimes be effected, and sometimes not. It’s a instrument one might not think would amalgamate well into electric-psych-pop, but they have found a way to make it work. Honestly, the only down side to the Loyal Divide’s performance was that it couldn’t be longer.
Taking the stage after the obligatorily enjoyable countdown and toasts was Keys n Krates. This group is comprised of a drummer, a DJ, and a keyboardist. The DJ is of the old fashioned sort, and most respectable kind, in that he actually uses wax records. They like to use his substantial sampling, and scratching, skills to construct their own versions of the sampled songs on top of the base he provides (often creating completely new-sounding songs with just a momentary sample). They like to say they are “reinventing the re-mix.” And after seeing them live, it would be hard to disagree. Being that they incorporate drums, wax, and keys into their sound creates for a sound that is highly morph-able, but seemingly always a party. They move between hip hop, new-disco, with tastes of techno and house thrown in there as well. And while the DJ is undoubtedly central to their sound, having the organic beats and keys elevates their live-sound to a different plateau.
On this night, of particular notice, was their remix of Drake’s Unforgettable, MGMT’s Electric Feel, and the Fugee’s Fu-Ge-La. But as was alluded to before, it’s not the way they remix these songs, it’s the way they sample them and then make them their very own that is the most impressive. So while a couple of well-known line’s of lyrics, or a couple piano chords, are used to spark one’s memory of the song they are using – they in no way stick to the initial beat or feel of the song they are sampling. Indeed at times they almost seemed as if they were trying to completely go the other way with it and catch their audience off guard, which they did a couple times. They placated the crowd very well on this night, and as everyone grooved and dance-circles broke out, it was apparent that they were a great pick for such a night of revelry.
Loyal Divide photo from Tracy Graham, find more of his work here.