Azari & III @ Venue Nightclub

Azari & III took me on a trip through the decades when they performed at Venue Nightclub in Vancouver this past November 8th. The Toronto-based electro-funk group reinforced the crossed-era dimension of their unique sound, which consists of clubby, bass-friendly 80s beats and more modern soulful vocals, a rare mix that the quartet has somehow mastered. While their show last week was cursed with a small, overly inebriated crowd as well as technical difficulties, they by no means held back from showcasing their talents.

Dinamo Azari and Alixander III are a couple of Joe Cools. They walked onto the stage last Thursday night to a minimal crowd and didn’t even think twice. For a good five minutes they were just warming up, nodding their heads and dancing in place to some retro beats they threw on to get the night rolling. They already seemed to be having a good time by the time their vocalists Starving Yet Full and Fritz Helder took to the stage. With the four of them together, the rumors of their unique sound and creativity became a reality.

What I learned is that Azari & III is talented both musically and in presentation. While Dinamo and Alixander were constantly swaying to the music behind the decks, Starving and Fritz put on a show of their own by alternating between groovy vocals and busting some funky dance moves. The music and the dancing were totally in sync, and I again had that Midnight in Paris type of feeling where I was experiencing a different era, while wondering what had happened to my own. I call on artists everywhere to cut loose and dance like it’s no one’s business, because these guys certainly have a ball doing it.

The clubby scene peaked in its vibrancy when tracks like ‘Hungry For the Power’ and ‘Manic’, although my personal favorite was ‘Into the Night.” All three of these tracks display the genius behind their sound. Dinamo and Alixander work with a wide range of synths that can create numerous catchy melodies in a single track. Starving and Fritz’s vocal power and coordination contribute to this fluctuation of synth riffs, and it truly sends you on a retro rollercoaster ride. ‘Into the Night’ is a great example of this dynamic. But Azari & III reminds you that their not an 80s band but a modern electronic group with older elements, which is essentially what sets them a part from other artists. I strongly advise you check out their debut album Azari & III, and give a listen (in addition to the ones mentioned above) to tracks like ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’ and ‘Undecided’ to get a feel for their various styles and overarching sound.

If you happen to catch Azari & III on tour, I only hope you don’t experience some of the downsides that occurred at their Vancouver show. The crowd was, to be frank, tiny and sloppy. If not for the immense energy Azari & III can bring to the stage, it would have been a very different evening. On top of that, the group was in dire need of a sound check due to the mics’ occasional static, ear-piercing mishaps. Nothing that a few drinks couldn’t handle though, I suppose.

And with that, a great thanks to Azari and III. It was great to have you back in Vancouver, and I hope you continue to make Dim Mak proud as you tour the rest of the Americas.