One of the most surprising developments to come out of this month in SF music is the fact that, despite disco’s rise and fall decades before, folks still love to throw down Studio 54-style. Outside Lands’ lineup shift from D’Angelo to Chic only brought positivity and funkiness and since then, it seems like the people have been begging for more. For all the studio wizardry in the world, nothing quite compares to a fully formed, live disco band.
Synths fall short of robust string sections and even the modern-day clavier stumbles when it comes to producing believable horn intonation. Disco has never been classified as a minimalist genre and generally takes on a “the more, the merrier” attitude throughout its scene. Brooklyn-based band Escort is wholeheartedly embracing the excess of boogies’ past with a revivalist take mixing just enough contemporary elements to keep it fresh.
The sixteen-member band started out with two men who just wanted to make a few house tracks. Dan Balis and Eugene Cho met in college and soon Escort was born. The original group from the early 2000s is a far cry from the full percussion, horn, and string sections it boasts now, not to mention French frontwoman Adeline Michèle’s leading vocals commandeering the disco party boat in the treacherous waters of contemporary dance music.
“I met Eugene and Dan through a mutual DJ friend who went to college with them. They’d already created the band and brought me on as a singer,” Michèle tells the Appeal.
“Now there’s sixteen of us when we’re in New York City. It’s a pretty large show. We just have to make sure the stage is big enough to fit strings and horns and our backing vocals.”
Allowing for a bigger picture outlook and outfit meant a rather tedious recording process when the time came to lay down the tracks that had propelled them to the top of the NYC club scene. Their 2011 self-titled debut came about after much production and tinkering.
“Our recording sessions were lengthy. We came in one by one by section. It really was a learning process,” Michèle says.
“Every song was meticulously produced. We’ve changed a lot since then. We’ve made so much progress now and we know each other so well from touring and just being there side by side. Our communication skills have changed drastically. Now we’re writing with my vocals in mind and my vocal style. Everyone’s involved in the process and puts their little twist on things.”
On leading single “Cocaine Blues,” Michèle’s infectious vocals come on strong, flying high on rich harmonies and dizzying drumming. The singer is spot-on beat by beat and boasts an impressive resume in music and performance. Michèle not only plays guitar and bass but has done previous modeling work and even has her own stylist for disco-ready outfits that only add an additional facet to Escort’s live show.
“I feel like especially with this [type of] music I need to look my best. It’s really quite fun,” Michèle says.
“Really, when I first heard the music, I loved it and immediately started envisioning outfits. I’m still just like a little girl playing dress-up.”
Escort brings their dance party grooves and disco attitude to Mezzanine this Sunday. Though the band has previously played SF, this weekend’s performance marks the first time they’ll be in the city with frontwoman Michèle.
“I’m very excited. I’ve only been to SF briefly and I’m looking forward to exploring it. I’ve heard it’s a very European city.”