NYC Sensation On the Rise: The DownBeat Keys
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to catch the DownBeat Keys throwing down an awesome live performance at The Cutting Room in NYC. If you, like me, have never heard of The Cutting Room, it is an intimate venue in Midtown Manhattan. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right – this little spot is a sit down-style music venue hidden behind a bar when you walk in. Catchy hip-hop in a sit down venue? Not exactly. DBK completely transformed the room! A few songs into their set, and the tables and chairs were pushed to all sides, and there was a full-on dance party going down. The band works hard and has a blast on stage, and it’s more than a little contagious. With an anthemic, pop/rock track like “Lonely,” or rap/jam/funk cuts like “The Children” or “Deer in the Headlights” (this might be my favorite – those lyrics!), this band spans a breadth of genres including but not limited to hip-hop, funk, rock, indie pop, soul, and jam, honing their sounds to create singable, danceable, easily accessible yet complex tracks.
This Brooklyn-based five-piece hip-hop band is in no short supply of catchy and elaborate songs that you won’t be able to get out of your head, and often times these songs are born out of jam sessions. Talent and heart are both very present: DownBeat Keys are the perfect storm of strong musicianship, personality, high energy, and genre-mixing, which effortlessly sets them apart from the majority of urban pop. Sometimes it’s difficult to see through the plethora of indie bands these days, and it’s even harder to find one that can inspire vitality and vibrancy in its audience, but DBK harnesses hip-hop’s distinct energy as well as its creative rhythmic and linguistic components to deliver just that. Frontman, Kadahj Bennett (aka Sim), has undeniably soulful vocals, intricate lyrics, and hyper-rhythmic, smooth raps that will have you singing along and leave you wanting more, while guitarists Jared Schneider (guitar) and Andrew Root, aka Root (bass), lend funky jams, Ryan Calabrese (aka Cal) injects lively and playful drums, and Baldwin Tang provides expressive keys as essential to the name as to the music.
The band members formed DBK in 2009 and are all alumni of Hamilton College in western New York, where they were an indispensable fixture in the music circuit. Since moving to NYC, the band has opened for Bon Jovi at Best Buy Theater, played a showcase set as one of the “Artists on The Verge” at The New Music Seminar in NYC, shared the stage with a range of artists including Passion Pit and hip-hop legend Talib Kweli, and were featured at LA’s 2014 MS&K Grammy Party.
The groovy, compelling energy and talent of DBK can absolutely be felt in their recordings, but their live performances are crucial to feel the full weight of their impact on your mood, and the feeling is almost immediate. If you’re in or near NYC, you can catch them live at Mercury Lounge in May (details at the end of the article) promoting their recent EP Memory.Chrome – listen here.
Also check out the live studio recording of “Stealin’ Your Heart” from Memory.Chrome.
DBK also will have a song featured in a forthcoming film by Academy Award-winner Ryan Silbert.
To get a stronger jolt of their big and irresistible personality, check out their music video for “Lonely,” directed by Alex Pecor. The song has also been featured in an MTV spring break commercial spot.
If you’re looking for a party with great music, look no further! The DownBeat Keys will play Mercury Lounge on Saturday, May 17th with Smokey Robotic, who describe themselves as “superfuture” electronic, mixing hip-hop, pop, and soul. Tickets are available starting Friday, April 11th at 12pm, and you can purchase them here!