OAKLAND — Underground electronic musician Zachary Saginaw, better known by his stage name Shigeto, performed at the New Parish Thursday night as part of Noise Pop Music And Arts Festival. Saginaw proclaimed it a “beautiful night” and cued up atmospheric dance beats. He embellished the structure of his electronic movements with mellifluous live drumming.
Saginaw played drums on every song, energizing his live trio. Completing the Shigeto Live Ensemble were keyboardist Ian Fink and tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliot. Elliot carried the show. His bright, languid saxophone leads recalled the mellower side of gritty 1960s jazz. His piercing tone and low-key demeanor elevated Shigeto’s rhythmic trances. Elliot’s improvisational prowess kept the songs from feeling repetitive in their drum-loop intensity and emphasized the live dimension of Shigeto’s approach.
Saginaw, whose car was broken into earlier Thursday evening, himself played his heart out on drums. Where his recorded loops emphasized a strong, simple backbeat, Saginaw added complicated fills, unorthodox timing sequences and jazzy flourishes. This set up an interesting interplay. At one point he played a straight up-and-down hi-hat pattern over stuttering recorded drums, creating a danceable off-kilter polyrhythm. While the musicians onstage were undoubtedly familiar with the backing tracks, their interplay onstage was live and largely improvised.
Saginaw drove the performance of his band, relating to the audience with subtlety and passion. Early on, he locked into a key principle of jazz music: pushing his own boundaries to elicit spontaneity and feeling from his ensemble. Using this approach, Saginaw raised the potential of the pulsating laptop tracks. The band played primarily in a jazz vein, with a few variations toward hard-edged neighborhood blasters.
Keyboardist Fink was more subtle in the mix, but experimental in his palette. Dabbling in different synth voices, Fink worked primarily with a silvery-sounding electric piano and a selection of sci-fi space jams. Fink combined Goblin-esque atmospherics with a schooled jazz pianist’s confidence. Looking crafty under an ill-fitting beanie, he skewered expectations with sudden galactic phaser sound effects.
Shigeto Live Ensemble crafted a surprisingly improvisation-heavy blend of jazz and electronic dance music. Their down-vibe, forward-thinking sound had the packed dance floor bobbing and weaving, and appreciating some smokey, vintage sounds.
Experimental electronichip-hop artist Maya Shipman, better known as Suzi Analogue, came out firing with a gutsy performance. Her singing was strong, with long undulating notes and emotional acrobatics. Suzi Analogue constantly adjusted tones on her effects bank, triggering subtle changes in the stripped-down beats. The tracks were layered heavily on the low end, with patterns overlapping. Suggestions of melody shifted in and phased out.
With her entire arrangement run through the PA, one could appreciate the progressive movements in her tunes. Thick bass lines gathered heft as bone-rattling drum sounds crept louder and louder. Meanwhile, Suzi Analogue captured samples of her voice with a looping effect. Her set was simultaneously spaced-out and hard-hitting. When Suzi Analogue stepped to the front of the stage for intense vocal meltdowns, she jumped and clapped like a 1980s aerobics instructor.
Vacationer, the project of Philadelphia vocalist Kenny Vasoli, opened the show with a gentle set. Vasoli accompanied recorded tracks on his Fender bass guitar and projected an approachable air from stage. Most of his songs were instrumentals, though he did sing on his final tune. He leaned heavily on the well-received Wavelengths album, released last year.