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Pop Montreal 2006

Beirut and Akron/Family @ Theatre National

Posted by Christy / October 8, 2006

Photo courtesy of David Dufresne.

"Just cry out one unobstructed cry." --Lalla

There are periods in history when a culture's music makes the world a lesser place. Beirut and, particularly, Akron/Family, are fighting the trend.

Beirut, bless their shell-shocked hearts, were hyped into instant indie fame by the already-hyperbolic music blog Said the Gramophone, earlier this year. The show was packed, naturally. Everyone HAD to see Beirut. And it's true, they did, because those kids were like tonic to our pop jaundice. If only they were rivers of blood.

Their music is based out of the klezmer of eastern European Jewish culture. It is the music of weddings and funerals, music of the long starved arm of history, music that never forgets, music that laughs through sorrow. Klezmer is music that understands what it means to be human.

Beirut is not klezmer, but it mimics it.

They haven't offered the unobstructed cry--yet. But that is a very, very hard thing to do. Current indie music philosophy favors wit over heart, spectacle over... over... communion? Beirut, and all the kids trying to raise a new voice out of the indie rock phenomenon, haven't yet learned to be vulnerable to their own music, to their own hearts--for godsake. But who has? Beirut, at least, has a chance, because they're working from an ancient voice.

There is a band that is already making a full-throated cry, however, and that is Akron/Family. To paraphrase poor dead Hicks, those boys' third eyes have been squeegeed thoroughly eff'ing clean. They may, in fact, be totally unfit for civilization--but thank god. WHO CARES about Civilization?

Akron/Family segué'd into their show via the entire Thriller album, and insisted on a dance party, which frightened people. Everywhere people were looking around inwardly asking, "Is anybody else dancing? Should I be dancing to Michael Jackson? Is it alright? Is it cool?" That's how you know indie culture is bad for humans: dancing, for us, is a narcoleptic head-nod toward the stage.

But Akron/Family was relentless. They made it clear that this was something they were doing with us, not in-front-of. I sweat through my shirt, completely. I blistered both my feet. By the time the audience themselves had applauded the band into a full-on spontaneous jam with all the members of both Beirut and Born Ruffians joining the stage, fists pumping and head flying, I completely shot my load. Akron/Family, naturally, was far too overjoyed to stop there, but, for me, the next few songs were just love thrusts before I had to admit I was spent, and regretfully went home.

Things just got a little better on planet Earth.



Sean / October 9, 2006 at 04:46 am
great review: wish i was there.
Christy / October 9, 2006 at 09:55 am
<i>Said the Gramophone</i> reads MidnightPoutine??! S'cuse me while I go all fannish and geeky, but I'm just delighted as the dickens.

You fellas do damn good work. Thanks for spreading the word on Beirut.
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