Balkan Beat Box at the Summit Music Hall
Back on tour after the release of their fourth studio album, Give, Balkan Beat Box hit the Summit Music Hall in Denver, CO. Founded by Israeli-Americans Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan, Balkan Beat Box emerged out of New York in 2005, but their sound is much more eastern than east coast. Their third studio album showcased their experimentation with Arabic and Spanish influences, while their newest album, Give, is an exploration of world sounds. I’ll admit, I did not really know what to expect, and ended up being blown away by their performance.
I was expecting a three-piece act, but then found out that Balkan Beat Box usually performs live with many supporting musicians to give incredible energy to their performances. So on stage was a six-piece act that belted out over an hour’s worth of high energy Mediterranean pop dance.
The first song struck me as more of a drum and bass feel; not what I expected. Their second song, “Part of the Glory”, I had heard before. I sort of expected all their songs to contain lyrics, so when their third song ended after an intense, upbeat Israeli dance sound, I knew to not expect anything else for the remainder of the night.
Song after song kept me wondering what would be next. Sounds flowed from very dance club type beats, to a slower “Pink Panther” theme-type feel, to an almost B-52 sound. Add a bit of a reggae mix, some heavy synthesized techno beats, some heavier Rage Against the Machine-type sounds (and political themes as well), all with dueling saxophones, maracas, drum solos and upbeat stage presence.
Right before they played “Enemy in Economy”, Tamir Muskat told the crowd that he was once detained at an airport as being a possible terrorist. Hearing this made me stop for a second and realize that as a society we all too well judge others based upon looks, not upon who they are. Dedication went out as well “to all the children in the Middle East. All children in Pakistan…”as half the band put up peace fingers to the crowd.
Balkan Beat Box have such climatic songs, that I thought each song half way through was the last song! I felt like I was in a musical drive through (like in Dude Where’s My Car?), where I kept thinking, is this the last one? Is it? But then another song would start…and then? And then an encore, which was a slower song that had a seductive-type dance feel, with outer space sounds, weird reverb-type echo vocals.
And of course it was not last song!!! Next was a very Israeli sound with lots of clarinet. The band then thanked the crowd, and then…another song! All members of the band were singing, as well as calling for all in the house to jump. It was a fast hard song. And then….and then….and then they were done!
The one down fall of the Summit Music Hall is the slightly smaller stage. Openers Atomga Groove Alliance, an 11 piece instrumental group, were jammed packed on the stage, and had major feedback during the 2nd song. Fortunately, the sound guy remedied the situation and there were no more disturbances throughout the night. All in all, the crowd at the Summit Music Hall got a worldwide dose of eclectic music. I do have to say I was pleased.
Pics by The Camurai himself Stu Kennedy of SKFunphotos.com