The Vermont Cynic

Higher Ground offers New Deal to boisterous crowd


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A mix of electronic and hypnotic beats bumped through the bodies of the sold out crowd at Higher Ground Thursday, Feb. 19.

Facing hundreds of concertgoers, hungrily thrusting their arms in the air and bouncing in the synthesized wave of acid jazz, funk and house music, the boys of New Deal fed them their sweat.

“They’re like the Grateful Dead of electronica,” CCV student Olivia Diebold said.

The forefathers of “livetronica,” an emerging genre in the late ’90s, The New Deal is a three-piece live electronic band that plays “music that you go and dance to all night,” the bassist Dan Kurtz said.

Coming in waves, the jams tightened and built into a climactic and undulating sound orgasm. The Deal keeps audiences guessing, but consistently and formulaically brings the beat up and down throughout sets.

Consisting of drummer Darren Shearer, keyboardist Jamie Shields and bassist Dan Kurtz, the group formed in Toronto where they gained popularity rocking the late night bar scene, Kurtz said.

The band’s “tour with Herbie Hancock a few years ago was a seminal moment that really turned us on to this kind of music,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz described their music as “stuff that is cooly rhythmic and funky.” The crowd imbued the vibe, coming out in colorful garments, sunglasses, loud necklaces and bracelets. The eclectic conglomeration of youthful energy danced the full three-hour set.

The New Deal has released a number of albums including “Gone Gone Gone and a self-titled album,” yet the band prefers to exercise their improvisational skills on stage, Kurtz said.

“It’s like a super charge for us,” Kurtz said. “It makes us way better musicians and most of the time we look forward to the challenge [of improv].”

With The New Deal’s growing popularity, the band is trying to expand their music outside of the U.S. and Canada.

“It doesn’t cross continents well,” Kurtz said. “Our whole thing is based on word of mouth and the scene in the U.S. is really good for people talking,” Kurtz said.

Chasing global recognition, the band will be touring in Japan and Jamaica before the end of 2009.

Fans are in luck – the electro funk band is bound to come back to Burlington.

“The coolest thing about the New Deal is that it can probably last as long as we can stand up on earth,” Kurtz said.

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Higher Ground offers New Deal to boisterous crowd