Beat Connection, Teen Daze, Odesza, Nov. 9 at the Wild Buffalo

I have to admit, I had never heard of Beat Connection’s first opener, Odesza, before this show. As the groups of boisterous attendees started to shuffle their way into the Wild Buffalo, I was initially surprised to see the number of people rushing to the dance floor to hear the ambient electro music the two boys were playing. At first I had a hard time finding the melody among the bass, but I suspect this may have been a sound issue rather than the duo’s intention. A few minutes later the set picked up, the songs sounded more complete and I was starting to feel the pull of the dance floor.

My interest was piqued. I started asking people, “Who are these guys?”

When I found they not only make all of their own music, rather than sampling from other artists, but that this was also their first live show as a duo, I was nothing shy of impressed.  The set started off a bit slow, but by the last song, I was hooked.

Next up was Teen Daze, a DJ known for ambient, chillwave tracks. The last time he was in Bellingham, the fans were a bit inattentive to the shoegazing Canadian’s dreamy pop tracks. This time Teen Daze got the message: Bellinghamsters came to dance—and dance they did. Teen Daze brought the beats, playing a clean set and bringing the audience’s energy up to a moderately sweaty level of excitement. Little did the antsy crowd know, Beat Connection was about to blow both opening acts out of the water.

As soon as the first song started, I barely recognized what I was hearing. The electro-indie band whose album, The Palace Garden, I had been listening to for months had morphed into a stage-filling indie-rock band in front of my eyes. Tom Eddy’s vocals and guitar were pushed to the forefront, with hardly any effects, making his clear voice a whole new aspect to the music. Eddy, as the newest member of the group, has come a long way since Left at the Castle, his high school band whose EP, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, can still be found on ITunes.

This isn’t to say whether the live or recorded versions are better, but the analog sound of the live instruments was impossible to ignore. It was a breath of fresh air to notice the guys in the group hadn’t taken any shortcuts by using back-up tracks. With a lot of electro-influenced artists, it’s hard to know whether there is genuine innovation and talent with all the digital programming that make creating a catchy tune as easy as clicking a mouse. The members of Beat Connection showed their absorbing musicality by relying on a number of live instruments and sample pads, not their computers.

Almost every single song from The Palace Garden made the transition from recorded and produced to live music seamlessly. The only track that didn’t make the leap was the popular single from Surf Noir, “In the Water.” As much as I enjoyed the live version of most of the other songs, the catchy repetitive vocal line did not translate quite as well without the effects as the rest of the set.

Beat Connection played a full set of high-energy numbers that were only separated by loud cheers from the audience and the murmurs of people turning to each other to talk about how great the show was.

I had mixed feelings about the encore, though. Finally, I got to hear the song that had been stuck in my head since August, “The Palace Garden, 4 a.m.” But the group finished their jaw dropping set with “Theme From Yours Truly,” a song without any lyrics or a strong melody.  The crowd started to disperse before the final song was finished, but I would say that’s partly because they had been dancing for nearly four hours.

Though the connection between the two DJ openers and the indie-rock version of Beat Connection was hard to find, one thing is certain—it was one hell of a party.