High Step Society from Eugene, Oregon.
Carson City is ending the Levitt AMP concert series on a classy note when High Step Society comes to town Saturday. The seven-piece band from Eugene, Oregon, brings a unique style of music that Ethan Rainwater calls “can’t-help-but-dance” music. It’s a blend of jazz with electric dance music and follows in the footsteps of electro swing, which was popular in Europe.
It will be the band’s first time playing here after its 2020 show was canceled due to the pandemic. Rainwater said he’s excited to share High Step Society’s music for the first time and hopes to get everyone dancing.
“We love getting to reach new people and kind of bring our dance parties to people in new places,” Rainwater said. “If we have anything to say about it, people will be on the dance floor for sure.”
The blend of jazz and electronic dance music makes High Step Society a unique band, Rainwater said. Seven people make up the band: Parkpoom Aempoo on trumpet, clarinet; Betty Jaeger on vocals; Rainwater on bass, synth, and keys; Alex Misar on saxophone; Nara Reicher as DJ and production; Anthony Meade on trombone; and Phil Allen on drums.
They’ve been making music since 2015 and regularly play the festival circuit. They’re headed to Burning Man after the Carson City show.
Their shows are filled with original songs and Rainwater said they’ll also sprinkle in some remixes of jazz standards. They’ll take a Duke Ellington song, who is one of Rainwater’s favorite musicians, and remix the song with a modern twist.
The band has released one full length album, and a few EPs and singles. They also have a few music videos. All their music can be found on all streaming platforms, or their website www.highstepsociety.com.
Rainwater said all demographics enjoy the music as it brings together something old with something more modern.
“That’s one thing I really enjoy about this band is that we can play mixed audiences and it seems like everyone from little kids to the grandmas and grandpas are getting down.”
The band is known for their sense of fashion and dressing to fit the part of old-school jazz. It’s the scene the band wants to create. Rainwater said it’s like high stepping, which is the idea of putting your best foot forward and shining the brightest you can.
“If you look good, you feel good,” he said. “It’s all about putting on your best clothes and going out and busting your best dance moves.”
He said the audience brings the same energy to many of their shows and it’s great to see everyone dressed up creating a special occasion.
Their show is high energy, and it gets people moving to amped up dance music, he said. But also, the show goes through some slower, sultry numbers where singer Jaeger gets into it, and the vibe is more of a slinky jazz feeling.
“It’s a journey,” Rainwater said. “The show goes through a lot of different feelings, sometimes in the same song.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The band’s mission is to bring jazz music to a modern dance party. Rainwater said jazz is part of American culture and that it used to be popular dance music, so they wanted to make that happen again. He said many people think of jazz as music in clubs where people clap politely and drink their wine and maybe fall asleep in their chair.
“I wanted to do something that would kind of bring jazz back to the party,” he said. “The way music evolves is by harmonizing and growing and changing, it is not by staying the same and pure.”
Rainwater said High Step Society gets to represent jazz at festivals that often have more DJs than people who play instruments. He says it’s important work and he’s even had people fall to their knees thanking them for playing real instruments.
Rainwater said the band’s momentum is back in full swing — where it was in 2020 right before things fell off because of the pandemic.
“It’s an exciting time right now,” he said.
The band was selling out shows up and down the West Coast and had signed a new booking agency and got a new record deal in 2020. They were getting ready to quit their day jobs and do the band full-time, but the pandemic put that on hold.
“Now two years later we’re just getting back to that place again and have that momentum,” Rainwater said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: High Step Society at Brewery Art Center’s Levitt AMP Concert Series
WHERE: The Change Companies Stage, 449 W. King St. at the Brewery Arts Center
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27
MORE INFO: www.highstepsociety.com; breweryarts.org