October 16, 2006
When Beruit played at the Knitting Factory this spring, the response was a cautious optimism. People cited technical difficulties and nervousness but also a great personality and potential for the band. After seeing them last friday, I can safely tell you to throw caution to the wind. Beirut were outstanding. Zach Condon has surrounded himself with a eight-person band of extremely talented, multi-instrumentalists who all seem to be in their early 20’s.
The band were incredibly loose and relaxed during the show, which was undoubtedly because of the amount of Jim Bean they were drinking, which wiped any possible nervousness away. This resulted in some very funny stage banter, dancing, and loudly Eastern European traditional songs that sounded like what I’d imagine the best mariachi band in the world.
Zach must have realized, perhaps from the Arcade Fire, that a key to a great show is to have an energetic and sporadic auxillary percussionist (see also Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s).
The as-of-now unnamed redhead Paul Collins (thanks Ami!) who also played the ukelele kept the crowd energized through jumping into the audience to play his tambourine or bass drum and occasional primal yells. Before The Canals of Our City played he had a hilarious dialogue with Zach about how Albuquerque is an oasis (sarcasm) and has a crack problem, that lead him to say “This next song is called Crack Oasis.”
My favorite song on the set would have to be “Siki Siki Baba” which had a fantastic accordian/trumpet intro and an even better violin-led sing-a-long chorus. When the show ended, I overheard a number of murmurs from the crowd saying how this was the best show they’d ever seen or how it compared with seeing the Arcade Fire live. All I know is that, everyone in the crowd experienced something amazing that night.
One of the best Canadian-scene blogs, Mocking Music, recorded Beirut’s show a couple weeks ago and I strongly encourage you to read their very positive review and download the entire bootleg (I have a couple tracks from it below). It goes without saying that I recommend that you catch the band on their current tour.