The Beat goes on Saturday at Crystal Bay
Even though the English Beat established itself as an outspoken band, don’t be surprised if the party it promotes isn’t a political one.
Frontman Dave Wakeling was musing about incorporating one presidential candidate into a chorus (“Go, Obama”) when the Beat last stopped in Tahoe, playing both shores in January. The band is returning for a show at the Tahoe Biltmore on Saturday, May 10, at the end of a contentious primary season, but expect pop, not politics.
“It’s not essential that bands be political in terms of their songs, but everybody need to be political in order to live a full life,” Wakeling said in an interview on his MySpace page. “For an artist, it’s important to be aware of your political surroundings, but it’s not essential that politics be part of your mark. Art has a number of different functions, and one of them is expression.”
“Music certainly goes in waves of pure entertainment or social commentary. After a while, either wave gets boring. I like the combination of them at the same time. You can have an optimistic beat with a social commentary.”
When the English Beat last visited Tahoe, it was trying out a new lineup in advance of a tour that started in February. Along with Wakeling ” one of the founders of the original Beat in Birmingham, England, in the 1970s ” the current lineup includes drummer Rhythmm Epkins, bassist Wayne Lothian, lead guitarist Mike Randle, toaster Antonee First Class, Fernando Jativa on saxophone and Ray Jacildo on keyboards and vocals. That lineup marks a high point in the Beat’s incarnation in the United States.
“We managed to get the band sounding like a full No. 10, and we can squeeze it up to 11,” Wakeling told Lake Tahoe Action in January.
Wakeling remains active in much more than music, pitching in for Greenpeace and Heal the Bay, and the Beat still turns donations from the crowd during “Tenderness” (from Wakeling’s band General Public) over to Smile Train to help children from developing countries with cleft palettes. Nor has the father of two abandoned having a viewpoint.
“I think ” sadly ” that as a population, we’ve become apathetic as a populace, and in those circumstances, you always get the government that you deserve,” he said.
But onstage, the spotlight goes back on the party, not politics.
“I like bands that make me dance, and dancing for me, needs to start with the hips,” Wakeling told Action. “Good dancing should be like making love, and a great concert should be like great sex: It gets close to the edge of violence but nobody gets hurt.”