Beirut | Photo by Matthew Shaver |

On paper, Beirut is the most hipster band ever. A dude from Santa Fe names a band after a city in Lebanon cause it’s a bummer, and goes off on world tours fusing pop rock sensibilities with a flair for world music.

In real life, Beirut is a band full of talented musicians that mix and match genres that you wouldn’t think would work, but heck yeah they do. First of all, brass is massively under utilized in popular music. Period. Beirut makes it happen, though. It adds a somber layer to their sound, for sure. Something that is as equally inspired by funeral processions as it is mariachi bands.

Hailu Mergia | Photo by Matthew Shaver |

Hailu Mergia | Photo by Matthew Shaver |

Then there is Zach Condon’s singing. Remember Sea Change by Beck? The album most likely to make you say “bummer”? Well, Condon channels that 24-7, and, mixed with he trumpets and trombones, it adds up to an evening that is destined to end like The Godfather. Blend that with an attitude that makes it all danceable and this starts to sound like nonsense. I can’t help you there. But, the crowd at Tower Theater (who were 3/4 3-sheets to the wind, and 1/4 reeking of a natural herbal remedy) was feeling it. Chorus after chorus smashed down wave after wave of devastating dirges, and it seemed like it was the most fun any of us have ever had. How’s that for a conundrum?

Hailu Mergia was a completely mysterious opener for the most part, but an unexpectedly welcome one. The Ethiopian-born, DC-based was a pleasant mixture of accordian-led jazz and funk. I don’t have a lot of information to share on them, it took a but of sleuthing to even find out who they were (there was , but they’re on my radar for sure now, and would be an excellent addition to the catalog of any lover of world music.

Scenic World
Elephant Gun
East Harlem
As Needed
Santa Fe
No No No
August Holland
Postcards From Italy
The Riptide
The Shrew
My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille
Serbian Cocek
After The Curtain
So Allowed

The Gulag Orkestar
In The Mausoleum
Flying Club Cup