Concert review: Wax Tailor takes the Demo on a journey of music, video and imagination, Saturday, February 2
The crowd gradually saturated the area around the bar as DJ Needles treated them to a mix of mostly hip-hop staples with a few deep bass electronic instrumentals to balance the sound. By the time DJ Zev took over, the floor space was beginning to be at a premium. Moving untouched was impossible.
Zev opened with a short set of popular songs in a mash style that was hit or miss with the tastes of the diverse crowd, but they all came around when Sam Lachow and Raz Simone took the stage. The Seattle partnership produced a genuinely pleasing sound with mellow flows and opened with a selection of tracks that featured jazz samples and instrumental production. They all seemed to have an ear for the music and a sense of showmanship that connected well with most of the crowd, though others craved a little more depth from the lyrical content and over-all composition. Nevertheless, the crowd filled in thickly and was well primed for the long awaited headliners.
The banner on the DJ table was decorated with the tour logo and read “Wax Tailor: The Dusty Rainbow Experience”; it could not have been more aptly titled. Based off the 2012 album “Dusty Rainbow From the Dark,” the entire show flowed together with a mix of music and video that took the audience on a journey with this magnificent French act. The album itself features a narrative of a young boy and his record player. That story of a voyage into his imagination was also featured in the performance.
The show included the majority of the tracks from the album, tastefully mixed with selections from previous albums. Each track was accompanied by its own custom video, many using footage from the original music videos, but usually with adaptations to mesh with the live mixing element of the show. Beyond the narration of the album, the video experience showed the child aging and beginning his own family, adding a beautiful conclusion to the story.
Wax Tailor is primarily the alias of Jean-Christophe “JC” Le Saoût, but is never simply the producer-DJ. Throughout the course four studio albums, dozens of vocal and instrumental musicians have been featured, and many of them involved in the tours. Typically, there is a full band, but for this tour, two of the most cherished vocalists in the Wax Tailor family handled the workload. JC stayed on top of a very active DJ mix full of scratches, loops and samples while hosting the entire experience.
Charlotte Savary handled the majority of the melodic and ethereal style vocals for the night. Possibly the most featured vocalist throughout the Wax Tailor discography, she sings with a delicate touch that is both jazzy and soulful, and undeniably enchanting. In addition to tracks she’s traditionally featured in, she masterfully handled songs originally featuring Jennifer Charles, Sara Genn and Ali Harter, drawing from their individual styles to mix with her own. Savary further connected with the audience with a natural stage presence that came out as she danced and interacted with the other performers.
In addition to the sweet sounds, Wax Tailor often built the energy back up with tracks that featured a skilled lyricist and performer, Daryl Parks. Known as Mattic, Parks energizes the crowd without relying heavily on hype, but rather uses clearly delivered flows, poignant lyrics and an inherent charisma to keep things moving. Like Savary, he went beyond the parts he recorded on the albums and handled verses by other performers such as Akua Naru, Elzhi, and A State of Mind (ASM). Even with these talented vocalists, the show included recorded verses as well, but all mixed live and delivered with the videos and narratives to fit the experience.
After the set, JC returned to the stage donning a KDHX t-shirt to perform an encore of two fan favorites from past albums before relinquishing the stage to DJ Needles and local hip-hop crew 18andCounting who performed for those seeking extended thrills on a snowy night.