Keys N Krates Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 20

Keys N Krates Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 20
Photo: Lindsey Blane
The excitement was clearly buzzing through the crowd for Toronto's Juno-winning EDM trio Keys N Krates, composed of drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse and turntablist Jr. Flo. With Tune working a synth drum kit and actual cymbals, Matisse taking various melodies on keys, and Jr. Flo squeezing in scratching, they're kind of like a digital version of Too Many Zooz. They're both similarly arranged trios of guys who make music based on electronic forms, although Keys N Krates have much more of a serious poptronic sound, and nothing in the way of the mushroom marching band feel that Zooz deliver.
Keys N Krates have hooks for days, no doubt, but following Zooz and DJ Shub on the main stage, the musicianship on display simply wasn't the most inspiring. Shub had far more sophisticated scratching skills, while the Zooz's horn section put on a demonstration how to work for those soul-satisfying melodies; Keys N Krates didn't look like they were in danger of breaking a sweat.
It was hard to tell exactly what anyone was playing most of the time, but they had the big drops, rising melodies, and textbook ornamental flourishes you would expect from a main stage headliner at a mainstream electronic music festival, yet a lot of sizzle and no steak. They're fine for what they are, just not very inspiring. Serviceable bass tunes that tickle ribs, but rarely go outside of the club long enough to make a provocative statement.