Infuse your everyday electro-swing sound with dashes of gypsy, and you get something reminiscent of Parisian septet Caravan Palace. Although bigger in the group’s native France, they’ve been steadily cultivating a legion of loyal Américain fans as evidenced by their nearly sold-out show at The Fonda last week.
I passed up a chance to fully experience Caravan Palace at Coachella 2014 due to a painful conflict with The Knife. Given that the latter ended up disbanding shortly thereafter, I felt somewhat justified in my decision, but I’ve nonetheless been eagerly awaiting the former’s return to the City of Angels since.
The release of <|°_°|> last October was the first hint I got of Caravan Palace’s return, and it proved to be every bit as delightful as the two LPs that preceded it. When the anticipated tour dates were announced, I was intent on making sure I was there for the band’s LA stop.
Similar to the set I caught from Parov Stelar a couple months back, the unusually high concentration of vintage threads present in the venue (even by LA standards) set the tone for an evening that would be rife with swingy strings and booty shakin’ bass. Caravan Palace emerged on stage to the tune of “Comics” off their latest release before they launched into the album’s lead single, “Lone Digger,” during which frontwoman Zoé Colotis truly shined with her energetic vocals and coquettish choreography.
Covering scat singing duties on crowd favorite “Suzy” was violinist Hugues Payen, who seemed to have no difficulty switching between the two mediums, much to the delight of the audience. Really, props need to be given to the entire band for their incredible stage presence and chemistry. It was obvious they were enjoying every second up there, and their dynamism was contagious.
“Rock It For Me” was one of my first tastes of Caravan Palace several years back, so to finally hear it come to life on stage was something else entirely. However, the standout of the night may well have been the newer non-single “Mighty,” which served as the first set’s energetic closer. It may not have had the immediate familiarity of tracks like “Jolie Coquine” (which also sounded great, by the way), but it undoubtedly produced the most fervent dancing in response.
Comparisons to genre compatriot Parov Stelar, who also recently came through LA, are inevitable, albeit slightly unfair as the two acts produce very contrasting flavors of electro swing. If I absolutely had to choose between the two, I’d very reluctantly give the edge to Parov Stelar but not without noting that my reasons for doing so are completely subjective. Both acts produce undeniably wonderful live shows, and you’d be remiss to skip either.
With regards to Caravan Palace specifically, you’d be hard pressed to find an act that pours more heart into its set than these ladies and gents. They are consummate performers with a flair for whimsy, and they proved last week that they are very capable of breathing new life into songs that have been played numerous times before. I look forward to their next LA tour stop, whenever that may be.
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