If you like improvisational jazz and funk blended with DJ mixes, you’ll want to be at the Capital Ballroom this Saturday night.
That’s when Victoria’s Astrocolor offers their home city fans a somewhat rare opportunity to see them perform as a unit. Unveiling the latest compositions in their three-EP series – known eponymously as Astrocolor I, II and III – the band aims to pack the large downtown venue with people willing to move to the grooves.
“In this day and age, it’s pretty exciting anytime you can see six people on stage making music together,” says Astrocolor front man and electronic mastermind Neil Cooke-Dallin. “It’s kind of becoming less and less of an experience (available to people), but the formula seems to work. We have a lot of fun doing it and the crowds seem to enjoy listening to it.”
While live shows by the full Astrocolor lineup are legendary for their energy and spontaneity – crafted at festivals such as Burning Man, Tall Tree and Rifflandia – translating that onto a recording isn’t exactly how this group goes about things.
“In some ways it’s all the other way around,” Cooke-Dallin says. “Our methodology for recording is we put everybody in the room at the same time and do freewheels and have a big recording jam. Then we go through later and mine all the best moments.”
Before they hit the stage, he adds, the six members have to go back and learn how to perform the songs live. It’s a process they began experimenting with in 2016.
“That style kind of arose in the late 90s, especially with some of the down-tempo stuff,” Cooke-Dallin notes. “I was hearing some of the styles of that era kind of coming back in vogue again, and having the technical knowledge of how that was done allowed us to work like that.”
He describes Astrocolor as having a backbone of a five-piece funk band, with him going in and doing his thing with synthesizers and electronics. The combo makes for some unique and danceable beats and rhythms, with plenty of room for improvising.
With Cooke-Dallin weaving myriad sounds and beats into a traditional two-guitar, bass, sax and drums lineup, the sextet have a host of new grooves they’ve been working on, he says. While the live show will contain songs familiar to their followers, much of it will be a situation of “see what happens and what works.”
“When we get toward the end of four sets, I’ll just play a beat and call out the key of the song, cut and loop, so the guys can just solo and dance over top of it without no real structure.”
Astrocolor warms up with a Friday night show at The Waverly Pub in Cumberland, then heads to Vancouver for a Nov. 17 show at the Biltmore Cabaret.
Special guests for the Oct. 13 Victoria show include Tyler Rowe, who voiced the hip-hop tracks on Astrocolor III, and Fox Glove, who lent their vocal talents on the track “Push Too Hard.” Opening acts include WMNSTUDIES, Bendy and Lito Ford.
You can purchase tickets online here or stop by Lyle’s Place at 770 Yates St.