Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From The Spin's Notebook: Beirut at Cannery Ballroom, 11/7/11

Posted by on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

From time to time, certain circumstances (limited time, money, space or interest, for instance) preclude The Spin from writing a fully fleshed-out review of a given show. But that doesn't mean we can't share our notes with you, dear readers. So below, transcribed directly from our notepad, are The Spin's thoughts on last night's Beirut show at Cannery Ballroom. You'll also see a handful of shots snapped by trusty photog-for-hire Lance Conzett.

* Well. This is definitely an NPR crowd. Blazers and beards abound. Pretty broad spread, age-wise. What are there, 600 people here? Maybe 700?

* The whimsical web of Christmas lights hung like a canopy over the stage kind of makes it feel like a hip, laid-back showcase at South by Southwest or something. One that's being hosted by NPR, naturally.

* Beirut is playing as a six-piece. Or is it a seven-piece? (Hard to tell from our vantage. You know how these damned pillars are.) Stand-up bass, drummer on standard kit, accordion, keyboard, two horns (three when frontman Zach Condon picks up his trumpet).

* Condon's throaty croon sounds exactly as it does on record. He's like a roving Balkan bard, but with your neighborhood barista's haircut.

* We love to see guys who probably mostly received applause during recitals and high school orchestral performances now being received — at least a little bit — like rock stars. I mean, look at this accordion player. He mildly resembles a young Gene Shalit, but he's still coming across as cool somehow. There's hope for you yet, high school flautists, accordionists and tuba players (tubists?)!

* Someone near us is definitely farting, this older lady keeps touching us, and there's old-timey trumpet music in the background. Are we at our grandparents' house?

* Our date just pointed out that this one song from the new record ("Santa Fe") is very melodically similar to The Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey." Holy shit. She's totally right.

* Just got hijacked for the duration of Beirut's encore by a well-known local-rock-championing Aussie goofball. He wanted to talk about his fitness regimen.

* You know what? We dig Beirut. Sure, it's a bit one-note (not literally, of course ... just aesthetically). The old-timey instrumentation thing doesn't strike us as either overtly gimmicky or particularly delightful. It's just how they do it. Condon can write good melodies and interesting arrangements, and it obviously takes genuine talent to present the songs the way these guys do. There's heartstring-plucking lyricism here, by God, even if the material isn't all that diverse.

* Wow, a show that's over by 10:15 p.m. That'll do. Wait ... why are we still taking notes?

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