Dante Elephante, Santa Barbara’s purveyor of powerful indie pop, proved at its SOhO show on Friday, March 2, that while the band has grown musically, its youthful spirit is still in full force.
Opening sets from energetic indie rockers Made Up People, surf-rock stalwarts Clean Spill, and hypnotizing electronic-pop music project Lvxe provided a delectable smorgasbord of sound before the main course.
Fans came hungry for the sold-out show, packing the dance floor, effervescing into a sea of crowd-surfing, and hanging onto every line of charismatic frontman Ruben Zarate’s honest and playful lyrics. This iteration of Dante Elephante boasted eight stellar musicians, including enriching additions of saxophone, trumpet, bongos, and even flute.
The audience grooved to favorites such as the dreamy “Pop Song” and the surf-infused classic “Never Trust a Junkie.” The group also highlighted tracks from its upcoming album, Rare Attractions. Standouts such as “It Bothers Me” showcase the power of Zarate’s melodic songwriting and smooth vocals when paired with an exuberant band.
Nowhere is this better captured than in Dante Elephante’s instantly entrancing new single, “Call Me (on the Phone),” which perfectly puts to music the tide of emotions that can be set off with a phone call from an ex. The comical video features Zarate decked out in a white suit and trying to maintain his host-with-the-most aura while confronting the call. Instead of wallowing in awkward remembrance, the song propels us to dance it off. Zarate did just that in the live performance, donning the signature suit and jumping into the crowd for an ebullient dance party.
The show kicked off Dante Elephante’s tour, which features a stop at SXSW, the festival from which the band’s name was recently deemed one of the best by Austin’s Do512. With engaging tunes and talented musicians, Dante Elephante proves that its inherent catchiness goes much deeper than the name.