Monday, October 16, 2006

Beirut / A Hawk and a Hacksaw / Animal Hospital live @ Triple Rock Social Club 10/14/06


(A Hawk and a Hacksaw)

Lots more pictures on Flickr: photos / slideshow

Sorry about the lack of updates late last week. I was house and animal-sitting for my Mom the past few days. I did make it out to one live gig last Saturday, though. Here's what went down.

I had heard a lot of Beirut. Most of it was a few months back when the blogger-buzz was in full swing and he/they played many-a-shows on the East Coast. Luckily for us here in the Midwest the band finally hit the road and graced us with a visit here in Minneapolis / St. Paul @ Triple Rock Social Club with openers A Hack and a Hacksaw and Animal Hospital.

When I arrived at Triple Rock ~ 10:20pm Saturday to meet my friend Amy, doors hadn't even opened yet. They were supposed to open at 10pm... it was a brisk 30 degree night so the wait was not too pleasant... I believe another early show at the club had run a bit late. I actually hadn't expected too many people for the show... by the time the doors opened around 10:45pm the line was about 1/2 a block long.

Animal Hospital, a one-man solo project (Kevin Micka) from Boston hit the stage first. Due to the late door-opening he had to cut his set short to 20 minutes, which translated into 2 (very long) songs. His sound could be described as "atmoshperic" or "eclectic". He played a variety of different instruments, sampled them all together, and then played around with the effect pedals on the floor. A very shoe-gazerish set, actually.

Albuquerque's A Hawk and a Hacksaw were up next and definitely gave us a taste of what to expect musically for the rest of the evening. The duo, consisting of Violinist Heather Trost, and percussionist/ vocalist/ accordian-player Jeremy Barnes, performed some beautiful melodies. Jeremy was very entertaining to watch as he played a multitude of percussion instruments, the accordian, and sang, all at the same time. Like Beirut, their sound was very Balkan influenced... at times I felt like I was at a Gypsy wedding.

Triple Rock was quite crowded by the time Beirut took to the stage. The band, aka singer-songwriter Zach Condon, and 9 other band-members started jamming out their Eastern European folk tunes immediately. Trumpets, Saxes, Ukuleles, Mandolins, Guitars, Keyboards, a Cello, lots of percussion... the number of different instruments was staggering. Quite surprising how great and loose the songs sounded. Much better live than on record in my opinion. At times during the set I kept thinking I was watching a mixture between Gogol Bordello and Arcade Fire. Very entertaining to say the least. For one of the last tunes, Zach and some other band members performed in the audience. The crowd (obviously) loved it.

All in all, great night and great show. Beirut really impressed me. Well worth freezing 20 minutes in line for...

Continue to look for great things from Zach and his band in the future. Beirut continues their tour in Seattle 10/17/06. Check their website and myspace for more details and info.

mp3: Beirut - Brandenburg
mp3: Beirut - Postcards from Italy

YouTube: Beirut "Brandenburg" live @ Triple Rock 10/14/06

Beirut Website / MySpace
A Hawk and a Hacksaw Website / MySpace
Animal Hospital Website / MySpace

Have a nice Monday!

- Steve


amy said...

Excellent show! Glad I didn't miss this one. ;)

solace said...

should have let me know, i had a ticket i didn't even get to use.

i only like one song on Beirut's record a lot, but i was curious to check them out live. looks like i definitely will have to next time.

AHAH are really cool as well.

skinnywhiteboy said...

thought you might like to read my review of AHAAH last night, at

King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orkestar; and A Hawk and a Hacksaw with the Hun Hangár Ensemble

The Dome Concert Hall, Brighton, 12 May 2007

How does one dance to a Macedonian wedding band? That was the dilemma facing the good people of Brighton in the second half of this double bill of Eastern European folk.

Although music of Romany origin is little known in Britain, film buffs will have heard Naat Veliov play on Emir Kusturica's film ‘The Time of the Gypsies’. A fat, charismatic Telly Savalas look-alike, the King’s music is highly influential in the ex-Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia. This was a one-off performance for the Orkestar, travelling to the UK especially for this appearance at the Brighton Festival.

In keeping with its use in weddings and festivals, Balkan brass bands play happy, high tempo dance music. The Orkestar is based on trumpets, (including Veliov’s brother Orhan) saxophones, tuba and percussion, which maintain a funky, syncopated attack. The King impressive girth swung with the rhythm, and his cocky skill with the trumpet was really quite sexual. The impression overall was akin to Herb Alpert on speed, and by the second tune the crowd were up doing an impression of string in a wind tunnel.

The music may as well have been local versions of the Birdy Song for all we knew, but with guidance from a few flag-waving Macedonians in the aisles, the audience picked up enough dancing tips to make it happily through a long set without dislocating anything. Encores were demanded and given, and it was a sweaty, smiling Festival audience who eventually spilled out into the street.

The first half was very different. Jeremy Barnes, the leader of A Hawk and a Hacksaw, failed to get people dancing despite repeated offers to join the band on stage. Backed with the virtuoso four piece Hun Hangár from Budapest, the music was just too complex, too dark and emotional – even on up-tempo songs such as ‘Ihabibi’ from their new EP.

Ultimately however, this was the most rewarding part of the evening, starting with a surprise Mariachi-style entrance from the back of the hall. Violinist Heather Trost – the ‘hacksaw’ half of AHAAH – and cymbalom player Balázs Unger struck up an eerie march, and Barnes and the rest of the ensemble wove their way to the stage wearing grotesque masks. Leaving an enormous football rattle with a bemused member of the audience, a short set began on a strange mixture of tools: cymbalom, trumpet, saxophone, violin, accordion and simple foot-operated drums.

‘In the River’, from 2006 album ‘The Way the Wind Blows’ was the most straightforward of a varied mixture of songs. Reminiscent of the legendary ‘fuzz-folk’ band Neutral Milk Hotel that Barnes drummed for, the song was stripped down to showcase his percussive accordion playing. The rest of the set was based on their new EP with Hun Hangár, and included ‘Vajdaszentivány’, a warp speed cymbalom solo from Unger, and stirring Hungarian pipes from Béla Ágoston.

AHAAH’s contemporary edges and willingness to experiment showed through and made the performance stand apart from a textbook folk gig. The contrast between the two shows made this evening more complete – satisfaction for the head and the feet.