I first heard about the band, Beirut, by chance, and I can’t remember the circumstances exactly, but I never actually appreciated them until my sister, right after the Flying Club Cup album had just been released, couldn’t stop talking about how perfect the album was. I caved and started listening to Beirut shortly after, and discovered, pretty quickly, that musicianship owes a helluva debt to Zach Condon, and Beirut. There are several bands that I feel, if given the opportunity to change the direction of music altogether, might reinvent what I believe is our societies diminishing taste, and Beirut is not only at the top of that list but they, like Andrew Bird, are capable of taking the nuances of sound to the next level—those takeaways of music that can’t be voiced or defined but can only really be heard, like when your emotional monologue is touched by a piece of art.
For example, when you watch Blogothèque (a great video blog by the way) the Take Away Show’s for Beirut’s songs The Penalty and Nantes, you will see what I mean. Here's a Beirut Greatest Hits collection that someone put together on YouTube, it’s another great introduction and tribute to a relatively underappreciated band.
Zach Condon founded Beirut as a solo project before the band made its 2006 New York debut. Condon is from Santa Fe and although I never met him--he had already moved on to better things before I moved to New Mexico--I did develop friendships with people who were close to him. I as I mentioned before, and can't imagine why now, but Beirut was a band, along with Dave Matthews Band, that I tossed aside in my youth when I first heard them, and my sister picked up the pieces, put them back together and said, “Are you sure?” And I’m grateful that she did, in both cases. I can’t imagine a life lived having missed the awe of either Beirut or Dave Matthews Band (I know many of you might question my appreciation for Dave Matthews, you’re wrong).
On a side note, I found Dave Matthews’ CD “Under the Table and Dreaming”, his band’s first release, on a street somewhere in Texas. The album was in the middle of the road. So, before I had gave the album to my sister, it had been bestowed upon me. I still have the album nearly twenty-five years later. It is one of a few CD’s that I still have and listen to on a fairly regular basis, along with “Songs You Know By Heart,” Jimmy Buffett, “The Hits,” Garth Brooks, “Sixteen Stone,” Bush, and Metallica’s “Black” Album.
I saw Beirut in concert in Santa Fe. It was a fairly intimate show, there weren’t more than fifty or sixty people in the room (at least that’s how I remember it). There was a small stage that was build in the middle of the Santa Fe Community Center, and it was there that Zach Condon and a small handful of his band played. The show was slightly disappointing, but not because the music was lacking. The Community Center was too big for the [sound] system they were using, and the sound did not amplify. Beirut is definitely one of those bands that, when accompanied by a great [sound] system and incredible acoustics, will leave a lasting impression. The poor acoustics of the Santa Fe Community Center is the only reason the show doesn’t make my top five greatest concerts list. It was otherwise an incredible experience.
Condon's voice is remarkably unique, and haunting, and he uses his vocals like the instrument that they are. If you're even remotely familiar with the band you know that it's impossible to mistake Beirut for anyone else, and I think considering music today that is a rare pleasure. If you are unfamiliar with Beirut, you really should check them out. Watch one of these videos that I posted. Any one of them is a good jumping in point. And they don't tour often so if you ever happen to notice that they’re playing in your area seeing them live could very well be one of those once in a lifetime experiences.
*I took the picture above of Condon at the concert at the Santa Fe Community Center sometime between 2011 and 2013, I honestly can't remember when it was.