Last night. Beirut at the Altar Bar.
I learned a great many things.
#1. Beirut might not be a huge name outside certain circles, but Zach Condon might be a generational talent. He’s all business up there, rarely pausing to address the frothing hordes. It fits the personality and the music.
#2. Good goddamn. Hipsters love Beirut. I joke about my own hipsterness because whenever anyone jokes about hipsters, they inevitably cite a band I really like in the “you might be a hipster if you listen to… X band” bit. I didn’t even know Pittsburgh had such a glaring hipster problem. The beards, the striped second-hand looking apparel, the odd hats, ear spacers, the sincere rocking of faux leather and fur. I mean… just… wow.
#3. My first show at the Altar Bar. A great little venue right there in the Strip District. Maybe held together by duct tape and twine, however. I really wonder why bands play Mr. Smalls anymore. I always circle events at Mr. Smalls but never attend. It’s just not a very good venue… unless things have changed in the last decade. Between Altar Bar, Stage AE and the Carnegie in Homestead, I see no need to venture out to Millvale for a show… unless of course you’re combining it with a trip to Attic Records beforehand.
#4. More about the hipsters. There were at any given time at least four or five creepy hipster mating rituals taking place during the show. Odd grinding, biting, groping, writhing… like octopi wearing wax vampire fangs and the Sable hat from Seinfeld. Or something like that. Draw your own abstractions.
#5. March of the Zapotec really is a black sheep of the Beirut catalog. Everyone seemed to know the words to every song at the show… full album, EP, whatever…. except those from Zapotec. I like the record. I don’t know why it’s treated with such ambivalence.
#6. If you have the chance to see this band headline, do it. Just go. Even if you’re only casually interested. Two trumpets and a trombone and/or tuba rock hard like you didn’t think they could… especially in a small venue.
Scenic World (from Gulag Orkestar)
The Shrew (March of the Zapotec)
Elephant Gun (Lon Gisland EP)
Vagabond (from The Rip Tide)
Postcards from Italy (Gulag)
Port of Call (Rip)
A Sunday Smile (from A Flying Cup Club)
Santa Fe (Rip)
East Harlem (Rip)
Nantes (Cup Club)
Cherbourg (Cup Club)
After the Curtain (Gulag)
Carousels (Lon Gisland)
The Penalty (Cup Club)
My Night With A Prostitute from Marseilles (March)
Gulag Orkestar (Gulag)