Beirut’s set at the FYF Fest on Sunday night was a nice break from all that punk anger and hardcore violence, however I still wanted to check out Turbonegro after them, but both bands unfortunately finished up at the same time.
I had never seen Beirut live and they sounded like the apogee of an indie band, mixing Mexico-via-the-Balkans world music, using lots of instruments included some which used to be exotic, such as an accordion, an old-fashioned upright bass, or a ukulele, abundantly injecting horns and trumpets into their reinvented folklore.
People were really into it, at least in the front rows of the large crowd packed around the main stage, but the most agitated people can get at a Beirut concert is to do a lot of clapping and soft balancing… and the most adventurous move the frontman can do is to remove his jacket while triggering some whistles from the crowd,… there was also a joke about ‘stalking his hotel room to see the rest of the striptease', but the whole thing stayed very gentle. I had a second thought after these two-day festival: after all, FYF kids weren’t able to do their typical crowd surf during any kind of music. That would have been totally inappropriate to do so when Zach Condon’s charming and romantic croon was heard over the circus ambiance of the band's eastern-European folklore, with its waltz-y rhythms and Mexican trumpets.
They made me think about the band Devotchka, and I am probably not the first one doing the comparison, minus the operatic level of the singer, and filled with more horns. They did not say a lot, just a ‘it’s have been a while LA’ at one point, but it wasn’t necessary as the communication was done directly through the gentle folk music and vocal harmonies.
For a guy who grew up in New Mexico and Virginia, Condon can fool his audience, and can make everyone believe he has lived one hundred lives in one hundred countries from Sicily, to Russia or Mexico! Just look at the setlist, it sounds like some interesting tour-of-Europe vacation. But there was some diversity among these songs, and certain ones were a little too-gentle pop and not enough three-horns-in-the-front, I was definitively waiting for these horns to kick up each time,… when they closed their set with ‘Gulag Orkestar’ off their first album, and brought up a big tuba on stage, it was the best time of the set, it sounded like a baroque-hybrid brass fanfare, and looked a little more chaotic. These guys were definitively too well-behaved for the FYF fest!
Postcards From Italy
Port of Call
A Sunday Smile
The Rip Tide
My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille
After the Curtain Falls