Caravan Palace swings into the Skyway Theatre on Bastille Day


What to do for Bastille Day? Stay home and eat cheese and escargot? Watch reality TV and scoff at the lack of culture? Surrender to the next person I see? How about a cool French band at the Skyway Theatre? Much better……………

So I found myself at the watching the opener and was a bit confused. There was a DJ playing a fun set geared towards electro swing but then a lady bug came on stage, then a couple of swing dancers, then a flower, someone in a black costume, and robots? Wait where did the robots fit in? A bit of research found the dancers to be Gypse Freq Circus a group of dancers and performance artists spearheaded by producer Sunshine. The set had a playful mood and the crowd ate it up. A perfect way to get them ready for the headliner.

I had been blissfully ignorant about Caravan Palace until a couple of weeks ago, and as so many time before was left wondering how yet another cool band had escaped my attention for so long. The band’s members found one another through myspace (yes I know) in 2006 and burst onto the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival in 2007.  With their album “<I°_°I>” aka Robot out they broke out in the US.

Centered on singer Zoé Colotis they took the stage and their unique blend of music had fans in their grasp from the opening bars of “Comics”. Their stage show is well a well controlled frenzy of musicians switching instruments (sometimes at a run mid-song). Their music while electro swing at heart shows elements of Jazz and various EDM elements. There were a few pointed violin bows to the beat of a heavy bass.

The fans engaged in pretty complex clapping sequences, clearly quite familiar with the songs. A surprise to me was their cover of “Black Betty” an African-American work song that came to fame through a Ram Jam cover in 1977.  Colotis was a bundle of energy on stage, always moving and dancing. She got a break for outfit changes during instrumental numbers. Lights were great – not overpowering the performance. Fans were an interesting mix of ages with some parents relaxing in the lounge while their teenage offspring was out on the main floor.

All in all a great Friday night and yet another band that’s new to me and finding its way on my playlist.

Set List: Comics / Lone Digger / Suzy / Midnight / Wonderland / Clash / Panic / Je m’amuse / 12 Juin 3049 / Wonda / Black Betty (Lead Belly cover) / Rock It for Me / Jolie Coquine / Aftermath / Tattoos / Mighty Encore: Star Scat / Brotherswing