Keys N Krates Take the Velvet Underground
Photo Credit: Lillyanne Szabo
I remember the trio – Jr Flo, David Matisse, and Adam Tune – in their pinnacle of fame when I was in middle school, their music videos playing on MuchMusic in the background while I’d be doing homework. I recall a funky video of the band going to an Amish community and playing EDM on an old school radio as the Amish danced to it. Their music, a mix of electronic and hip-hop has a natural lure, with its deep bass and loud, clashing beats.
The trio played at the Velvet Underground last week, a cozy little venue in Toronto just west of Chinatown. The crowd was an older bunch, mid to late twenties, some adorned with tattoos and piercings. The opener was a solo act; a DJ remixing old songs. It was typical club music as he altered the frequency and sped/slowed up old hip hop tracks. The venue was quite empty at this point although the people there danced lightly. However, the opener played for two hours, which started to feel repetitive. I heard from other people wondering in the crowd where Keys N Krates were, anticipating their arrival and uninterested in the DJ. But at 12 am, Keys N Krates took the stage. At this point, the venue was full of people trying to squeeze into the front. Their setup utilized the whole stage; with drummer Adam Tune centre stage, Jr Flo on the right with a turntable, and Adam Tune on the left with a microphone and a keyboard. They had a relaxed vibe: two dressed up in Toronto related shirts, and one with a baseball cap on. Interestingly enough, quite a large crowd of groupies sat behind Keys N Krates on stage.
They began their set with their record “Início”, a single from their 2018 album Cura, following a collaboration with Toronto-based rapper Tory Lanez. Keys N Krates’ sound is anew from their 2013 sound. Their earlier work was catchy and simplistic; alike to many other EDM artists. Now their production is of a better quality and had a particular vibe, as one could identify their song as a Keys N Krates track. Each song transitioned into the next, with not much talking to the audience. But that was okay. The crowd continued jumping sporadically with their hands in the air. The vibe here was chill: fans of the group came here to have a good time in the packed venue. I felt a little out of place as I was not as accustomed to their music, but the vibe was so energetic I found myself moving and not really thinking.
They played around 10 songs, a few old ones including “Dum Dee Dum”, which is an ode to their past music. The crowd was exuberant: seemingly untired throughout a totalling to three-hour show. All in all, the experience was kind of cozy; Keys N Krates had a lot of love to give to their hometown and the crowd reciprocated. The audience didn’t mind the squishy, warm venue, and danced throughout: arms always in the air. Keys N Krates are an authentic Toronto act, and as a Toronto native, I’m glad I was there to support them.