Thursday, May 29, 2008

(05.29.08) Recommends:

The Los Angeles Return of Beirut.

Oh, Zach Condon. What more can we possibly say about him? He released music in 2006 and it was among our favorite music of that year. He released some more music in 2007 and it was among our favorite music of that year.

He's an interesting artist for many reasons, but one of the things that strikes us is this. If you read this blog because you're really into music, you're familiar with Beirut. If you read this blog simply because you know us, you're probably not familiar with Beirut. And if you get out from beyond your computers right now and ask the first five people you come across if they know of Beirut, after clarifying that you're talking about the band, we can almost guarantee that you'll be meet with blank stares. So here's what's awesome. Last time Beirut came through Los Angeles -- October '07 -- they played two shows at the Avalon (the first of which we know for sure was sold out). The Avalon is not the Hollywood Bowl, but it easily fits in excess of 1,000 people. It's quite impressive playing, let alone selling out, a venue that size while being a band that is in large measure obscure.

And not only did Beirut sell out the Avalon. The crowd was as attentive as any crowd we've ever seen. Hanging on his every word. Singing along to every word. And at the time of these shows Beirut's second full length album had been officially released less than a week, yet we overheard at least two people claim various songs on the album were their favorite songs of all time. And we don't think this was simply hipster hyperbole. Zach Condon has an effect on people that is true and pure and above all else real. (As an example, after the show, we went home and were inspired to start goofing around with our camera. We took a picture of the concert ticket and within thirty minutes had created what has turned out to be easily one of this blog's most viewed posts).

People of our generation, we're the Mtv generation. We've been advertised to our entire lives. Since our earliest years, we've been sold soda and shoes and lifestyles and dreams. It's become hard to tell the difference between what we really think and believe and feel and what we're told we're supposed to think and believe and feel. It seems that every time we stumble upon something authentic and different, in come the marketers to repackage it and sell it on a mass scale. It's enough to make one crazy. Unfortunately, cynical, we think, is what it's made most of us. There's a sense of sadness that pervades our generation because we desperately seek things real -- real emotions, real connections, whatever -- but too often feel we are left with the manufactured, facsimiles. We want to know that the emotions that we experience are the emotions we actually have, and not the emotions that marketers and advertisers and media executives are feeding us.

And into this vast space steps Zach Condon. He is real and pure and haunting and haunted and seems like he arrived in our speakers straight out of a novel. People are responding, we suppose, because they fear this moment is fleeting. That Zach Condon will one day just up and vanish. Well, for now Beirut is back for two shows. This time at the Wiltern. The band is still pretty obscure. But that hasn't stopped them from already selling out the Friday show.

If you sometimes feel overwhelmed with the cynical and the snarky and the snide and the sarcastic, we really recommend going to one of these shows. We guarantee they will be life affirming. And that's a good thing.

Beirut -- various tracks -- streaming audio.


Anonymous said...

You strike a chord. It's heartening to know that music that doesn't fit into the main stream or even the typical alternative can garnish this type of attention. May it inspire more young artists. Beirut rocks!

Lindsay said...

thanks for the nice comment on my blog! come back and visit again. :) and yes, this show (friday) was fabulous. I probably cried twice from joy. beirut is one of the best things going these days.