Sacramento brings out the superhero in BLVD, said the quartet’s lead vocalist, MC Souleye. Despite being based in San Francisco, the band members feel a unique connection with Beatnik Studios in Sacramento.
Drummer Dylan McIntosh grew up in Sacramento, and the group has made many friends from playing shows in the area.
Before their show there three months ago, band members pulled into the back of Beatnik Studios. They emerged from the doors directly onto the stage.
"I felt like I was Batman coming out of a cave or something," Souleye recalled.
Friday, at Beatnik Studios, the super-quartet will save the day once again with its unique style of dance music, which blends electronic, hip hop and rock styles. The concert kicks off the second leg of the band’s North American tour, which also ventures into Canada.
BLVD features traditional rock instrumentation with a guitar, bass and drums. MC Souleye raps lyrics while the band plays danceable riffs.
When the band first formed, it was a trio consisting only of McIntosh on drums, Curtis Sloane on electric guitar and Tripp Bains on bass.
Their approach was to play a live version of what has traditionally been a studio-based music: techno. When recording their three studio albums, McIntosh and Sloane also worked with music samples and digital gear.
Then, about three years ago, at a show in Tucson, Arizona, the band met MC Souleye, who had been touring with Bay Area-based DJ Bassnectar. Souleye collaborated with BLVD until recently, when the band members collectively decided he would front the band full-time.
Souleye appears on 10 of 11 tracks on BLVD’s fourth album, Music For People, 2008. The band members have recently been describing their sound as live electronic and electro-hip hop while Jambase.com and Okayplayer.com call them "livetronica" and "trip-hop."
They recently finished recording their fifth album, which will continue in the same vein. It was produced by music veteran Jeff Saltzman, who has worked with bands like The Killers, The Offspring and The Sounds.
"The confirmation that we would have [Saltzman producing the album] was a big moment," McIntosh said. The band recorded the new album over the course of 30 12-hour days. The groups still does not have a release date for the album.
"It was really amazing to spend that amount of time with someone who has made so many great records, and get all his input and advice on what we’re doing," McIntosh added.
"It’s a positive, uplifting message, combining cool retro riffs and solid hip hop beats," Souleye said.
"We’re moving a lot between tempos and trying to create a journey of sorts with people dancing [and] connecting with each other," McIntosh said. "The audience [Friday] can expect a dance party for sure."
Those who attend the show can also expect to hear at least half of the new album, Souleye explained. Maybe even a brand-new song that’s never been played before.
"My favorite thing in the entire world is performing, and you’ll hear that from each one of us – it’s what we live to do," Souleye added. "It’s an amazing feeling to be there."
The show begins at 9 p.m., and tickets cost $10 at the door. Opening are DJ G.A.M.M.A., DJ Whores and DJ Mener. Also featured at the studios during the show will be art from the Stilldream Collective.
Beatnik Studios is located at 2421A 17th St.
Photograph courtesy Megan Krouse