French electro-swing pioneers Caravan Palace may not be a household name, but to devotees of their unique blend of gypsy jazz and electronica, there was no place else to be on Sunday night. The doors opened at 8pm and over the next two hours, the crowd slowly filtered in amidst the cranky bartenders and quiet mood that settles over downtown Pontiac on a Sunday night. However, when the clock struck 10, the place exploded into a hot, sweaty dance party.
Led by the captivating chanteuse Zoé Colotis, the collective of Caravan Palace have been celebrated worldwide for pioneering the sound of electro swing since releasing their eponymous debut album in 2009. Touring this summer insupport of their latest album Panic, the group is a well-oiled machine. The 80 minute set was almost non-stop with coreograpghed stage moves and slick transitions between songs. Though the production was almost too slick for a live band, the crowd interaction gave the performance an intimate feel.
Mixing electronic beats and synths with gypsy jazz doesn't sound like an easy thing to do, but the band has it down to a science and uses the dynamics of the music like a club DJ, building up the crowd to a crescendo and then letting loose. The band has an ultra-cool retro jazz vibe with a contemprorary dance appeal. It was amazing to see the crowd dancing and jumping around from the minute the music started and keeping up the energy throughout the set.
The current touring lineup of seven extremely talented multi-intrumentalists kept a frantic pace on stage, seamlessly switching between tradional jazz instruments to keyboard and turntables, all while dancing around and keeping the crowd on it's toes. The cabaret vibe was very much a part of the show, with singer Colotis disappearing and re-emerging between songs, including three costume changes.
The crowd interaction built up to a climax as two "sexy" fans were invited on stage to swing with the band. It's too bad there wasn't room on stage for about 50 more people as the crowd really seemed to get off on this. Other than !!!, I have seen few live bands build a crowd into a dancing frenzy like Caravan Palace.
After the crowd demanded an encore, the band came out to take a picture with the crowd. I was pleased to see the metro-Detroit fans make such a strong turnout for a lazy Sunday night.
Check out this wonderful video below to get a feel for the fun/craziness.