November 2nd, 2011

Loopster Live: Beirut at Warehouse Live

Halloween is an art form lost on me. Dressing as someone/something has never really been that enticing.

That wasn’t the only reason that I wanted to see Beirut’s show on Monday night, but it didn’t hurt that I had an incentive to avoid last minute, ghoulish congregations or sitting by the front door to dole out candy to strange children. Rapunzel found enough Smarties in her pumpkin bucket, I assure you.

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About half of the Halloween concert goers didn’t share my lack of affection for the holiday. Face paint and leotards abounded and the occasional superhero let the streets run rampant with crime as they chose to take in the old-world music of Zach Condon’s Beirut instead.

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All would have to wait. Ramesh (above) opened up the night. Formerly of Voxtrot, the band out of Austin, Ramesh Srivastava has taken his act solo. Those hoping for the simpler sounds of the original band were in for a surprise. Ramesh has gone bigger, quite literally. The band swelled with instrumentalists as his vocals, still airy yet succinct, tried to keep up. I kept myself from yelling song titles from Raised by Wolves, but eventually was won over by the new, fuller sound.

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After being delighted by Beirut at Free Press Summer Fest, I figured there would be a lot more people in attendance at Warehouse Live. That’s not to say that it was empty by any stretch of the imagination (especially for a Monday night, Halloween or not). However, I would have estimated that the building would be teeming with twenty-somethings.

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Condon and the rest of his cohorts have created an genre-conquering sound with a blend of European influences and American rock sensibilities. The only strings on stage are that of a ukelele and upright bass. All the other usual guitars have been replaced by shiny brass horns and an accordion. To say that Beirut is eclectic would be like describing the night’s crowd as dressed casually.

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Three songs in, “Elephant Gun,” Beirut’s 2007 hit, set the pace early for the crowd. As Condon switched through his uke, trumpet and belting out sonorous vocals. From there on out, Beirut had their audience hanging on each horn blast throughout the rest of the set.

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As the show slowed to a halt and the band took the break before the encore, I sat back to wonder if we really have to go through this formality anymore. We all know it’s coming, right? Why do we play this cat-and-mouse game? But, judging by the crowd reaction as their measured hollering turned into a fervor of screams, I guess it is a thrill each and every time.

Condon took the stage solo for a song before the rest of the band came out, sending candy flying into the audience. They jumped into their song most suited for the European discotheque, “My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille” which sent the crowd into mosh of dancing. Beirut finished up their set with the beautiful closer, “Gulag Orkestar” and, honestly I was left wishing I could do this for Halloween every year.

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Note: While consulting on the photo-editing process, Alexander told me that there’s nothing sexy about a man playing tuba. I happen to disagree. All you tuba players, keep up the sexiest of work.

— Paul

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