New York indie trio Yellow Ostrich is offering a free download for the title track of their forthcoming album, Ghost, which is set for release October 22nd. Yellow Ostrich, originally a solo project by Alex Schaaf, morphed into a duo before the release of its debut record, The Mistress. By the time their sophomore album, Strange Land, came out in May, Schaaf and drummer Michael Tapper picked up Jon Natchez of The Antlers and Beirut as well. Yellow Ostrich will be playing at Kung Fu Necktie on October 26th; tickets for the 21+ show can be found here. Grab your download in exchange for your email address in the player below.
The members of Beirut had enough instruments on stage last night for a high-school marching band. If an inattentive concert goer wasn’t watching the band on stage, it would have been easy to mistake the folky, world-pop sextet for a monstrous 10-piece ensemble with an endlessly revolving set of members. That wouldn’t be too surprising, either, considering how the group started as the offspring of only one person—front man Zach Condon—who just needed some other guys to play what he told them to play. To everyone paying attention, though, it was clear that Beirut is a stable, satiated six-piece band, with the supporting cast acting as artistic foils to Condon himself.
This feeling of collaboration was only intensified by the night’s varied song selection, the set-list turning into a quintessential survey course of Beirut’s discography. Though the band’s current tour is to promote their latest album, The Rip Tide, the group began with “Scenic World,” a track off its 2006 debut, Gulag Orkestar, and then straight into “The Shrew,” from 2009’s March of the Zapotec. These two tracks alone offer a unique juxtaposition within Beirut’s genre, the first heavy on accordion and the latter sounding like the brassy soundtrack for a bull fight. By the time the group got around to playing material from The Rip Tide, first playing the woozy “Vagabond” and then “Santa Fe,” the group had already hinted at all the musical phases it has undergone since its conception. First inspired by travels throughout Europe and then travels to Oaxaca, Mexico and later to Brazil, Condon’s past songwriting always had a thematic element to it, central to his recent travels. With The Rip Tide, though, and especially with last night’s performance, it is clear that Condon—and, more than ever, his band—are melding everything from the past five years in order to create a well-rounded, complete sound.
As Beirut continued its set, receiving great cheers for the ukulele and accordion-centric “East Harlem,” the setting of the stage helped perpetuate Beirut’s worldly influences. Though adorned simplistically, with strings of red and gold blinking lights, the decoration nonetheless gave the entire evening an undeniable carnival feeling, as if little samba school kids were waiting to join the group on stage. Instead, though, the lights just kept the atmosphere feeling festive, even during the group’s more languid, silky songs, like the piano-based “Goshen,” when all other lighting was stripped away to darken the stage.
After a lengthy wait for an encore, Condon returned to the stage alone with a ukulele to perform “The Penalty” from The Flying Club Cup. The solo performance was a brief reminder of Condon’s role in acting as the band’s center, as its true creator. The encore bloomed into a nearly 30-minute, four-song affair, with the rest of the band (and Mishka the dog) joining him; the set dissolved into a bending, continuous melding of instruments that outshone the rest of the show as each band member showed off in their respective tuba/bass/whatever solos. The final songs performed were the title track of 2006’s Gulag Orkestar and then an impressive version of “Serbian Cocek,” where the focus of the performance was not on the front man but on the collection of musicians on stage. When the group left stage for the final time and the crowd’s couples stopped dancing, even the greenest of listeners could walk away knowing that they had heard music that relies not on Zach Condon, but on Beirut. —Marielle Mondon
If you’ve not made your Sunday evening plans yet, there are two excellent shows tonight in Philly; Beirut plays at the Electric Factory at 8 p.m. and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue perform at Union Transfer at 8:30 p.m. In case you missed it, read our interview with Paul Collins of Beirut here. Listen to David Dye’s interview with and performances from Beirut on World Cafe here. Below, listen to one of our favorite songs from the recent Beirut album, The Rip Tide, and stream Trombone Shorty’s recent album, Backatown.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11
Noel Gallagher has proven himself to be quite multifaceted. This past month, Gallagher released his self-titled, debut album, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds—which was met with anxious speculation from music critics who expected to hear Oasis-esque pop tunes. Yet, to some people’s surprise (and possible dismay) the music veers away from that of the Britpop sensation he was once a part of; the album leans more towards radio rock than the ballad-y pop heard in “Wonderwall.” He’s also maintained his reputation for thoughtful songwriting, allowing the album to rely heavily on his lyricism. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds does have a clear Oasis influence, but overall he has managed to disassociate himself with his fast-paced, tabloid-ridden past and create a sound all his own. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performs with The Hours at 8 p.m. at the Academy of Music; tickets to the all-ages show are $25–$95.—Caitlyn Grabenstein
Also Playing: Purity Ring + Phonographiq at The Barbary (7 p.m., all ages, $10–$12); Wooden Shjips + Birds of Avalon, Moon Women at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $10); Manchester Orchestra + White Denim, The Dear Hunter at Electric Factory (8 p.m., $27); Cloud Nothings + Arches, It’s A King Thing at Johnny Brenda’s (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10)
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12 Kurt Vile’s lyrics are anything but coy. Songs off of his fourth full-length album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, are blunt and seemingly political, embodying an f***-the-man attitude. But, this past week, Vile’s response to the backlash he received for allowing his song to be in a Bank Of America commercial showed a different side of the local rock guitarist. Frankly put, he doesn’t have any interest in other people’s opinions; he’s simply a guy who is going to do what he wants. It might not have been the type of recognition he wanted, but it gave him an opportunity to clear a few things up. (At the very least, it got a few more people to pay attention to his music.) Kurt Vile might not be known for his poetic eloquence or anti-corporate politics, but he does have the ability to take the truth and throw it in your face. Kurt Vile performs with Blues Control and Far-Out Fangtooth at 8 p.m. at Union Transfer; tickets to the all-ages event are $14–$15. —Caitlyn Grabenstein
Also Playing: Fitz And The Tantrums + Walk The Moon at Theatre Of Living Arts (7 p.m., $32); Joan Baez at Keswick Theatre (8 p.m., $39–$59); Sharon Little + Julian Velard, Claire Wadsworth at Milkboy Philly (8:30 p.m., 21+, $12–$15)
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Just when you expected Beirut’s Zach Condon to write more music based on esoteric traveling adventures, he didn’t. Though acclaimed for his arty Francophile persona in 2007’s The Flying Club Cup and later for his wanderings in the creative hub of Oaxaca, Mexico in 2009’s March Of The Zapotec, Condon has now translated his eclectic indie-meets-world music to the more hometown-inspired sounds of Beirut’s latest album, The Rip Tide. The first sign that this record isn’t as inspired by distant travels? It’s first single, “Santa Fe,” which is named after the very town where the first form of Beirut was conceived five years ago. As a result, The Rip Tide offers a more approachable—one might daresay mainstream—alternative to Beirut’s past records. The Rip Tide isn’t completely stripped of all former eccentricities, though; between accordion-driven ballads and brassy melodies, Condon clearly can’t shake off the aftertaste of his wanderlust. Beirut performs with Basia Bulat at 8 p.m. at the Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are $30.95 ($25 ticket + US $5.95 fees). —Marielle Mondon
Also Playing: Trombone Shorty And Orleans Avenue at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $25); Office Of Future Plans + The Young, BELLS? at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $10)
It has just been announced that Beirut will extend its upcoming tour in support of its new album The Rip Tide (due out August 30th). Beirut frontman Zach Condon will be joined by a five-person band that will feature a ukulele, trumpet, accordion, electric bass, tuba, trombone, euphonium, and many more instruments.
The tour will continue across North America and Europe through November. It will conclude in Philadelphia on November 13th at the Electric Factory. Tickets are not yet available.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of Bonnaroo, the massive, scorching, and extremely dusty music festival that takes places annually in early June. This year was particularly enormous with the fest being sold out, as 80,000 people made the trek to Manchester, Tennessee from June 9th-12th. Headliners such as Eminem, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Buffalo Springfield, My Morning Jacket, and The Strokes drew a varied crowd from all walks of life. Despite domineering heat and the fact that the farm essentially experienced a Dust Bowl, festival-goers remained in good spirits throughout the weekend as they turned out in hoards for their favorite artists’ shows. For a 10th anniversary, Bonnaroo didn’t book many artists unique to this summer’s festival circuit, but the lineup was sufficiently packed to make the 14+ hour trip worth it.
Sleigh Bells: Sleigh Bells’ recent sold-out show in Philly had the Trocadero pulsing with sound and dancing bodies, but that was nothing compared to Thursday’s Bonnaroo performance at the Other Tent. The booming bass from the opening night show could be heard throughout the entire farm, and people were packed in and around the tent. Alexis Krauss kept the crowd hyped up the entire time despite the fact that few could even see her as she shouted Bonnaroo’s praises and belted Sleigh Bells’ trademark cheerleader-pop-rock anthems. Guitarist Derek Miller provided support to the increasingly hard set, which culminated in Krauss diving into the delighted crowd.
Friday highlights: Givers, Florence And The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Pretty Lights, Ratatat
Saturday: Chiddy Bang: Fresh off the release of their latest mixtape Peanut Butter and Swelly, Philadelphia natives Chiddy Bang took to the stage of This Tent on Saturday afternoon. The 15-track mixtape blew up the blogosphere, so it was no surprise to find a large, youthful crowd spilling out of the tent despite the sweltering 3:30pm heat. Composed of rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and drummer/beatmaker Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, the hip-hop duo played a set that spanned their young yet eventful career. Most of the material came from 2009’s breakout mixtape The Swelly Express as well as PB&S, and the set also featured a preview performance of their new single “Manners.” The most ambitious aspect of the show came when Xaphoon took the mic to gather numerous freestyle topics from the crowd for Chiddy to rap about. Although the audience became antsy during the long collection process, they immediately reengaged when the Guinness World Record holder for longest freestyle began to adeptly rap about Bonnaroo, Pokemon, and a crowd-pleasing detestation for LeBron James. Peanut Butter and Swelly was released as a prequel to Chiddy Bang’s debut full-length effort Breakfast, which is expected later this year. Until then, check out this video that Bonnaroo released of the duo performing the new single. The quality is a little low, but the energy is there and you can still get the idea.
Man Man: Following Chiddy Bang, the Philadelphia music continued at This Tent with a performance by experimental rockers Man Man. Known for its wild live performances, the multi-instrumentalist quintet continued in this tradition wearing matching outfits and face paint, and playing an unpredictable and diverse set. While hard to see exactly what instruments the members were playing, everything from keyboards to harmonica to eccentric drums could be heard. The hour-plus show featured tracks primarily from the group’s first three albums, despite its recent May release of the LP Life Fantastic. Although people wandered in and out of the tent throughout the performance, there was always a decent-sized crowd grooving to the slightly spastic set. In the day or so following the show, many overheard conversations made it clear that Man Man had established numerous new fans for itself.
Beirut:Perhaps the most challenging scheduling conflict of this year’s Bonnaroo was on Sunday evening, when Beirut, The Strokes, and Explosions In The Sky were all slated to perform within an hour of one another. Beirut was the first to begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Other Tent, and a late start time had some attendees feeling anxious while other devoted fans waited patiently. However, as soon as the set began, the crowd that had stayed realized they had made the right choice. Zach Condon and Co. opened with “The Concubine” from 2009’s double EP March Of The Zapotec/Holland, and continued into a set that included older favorites as well as plenty of new material from their upcoming August release The Rip Tide. Rainbow-colored lights filled the tent as horns and strings soared and bellowed beneath Condon’s soulful Balkan vocals. Once, as Condon began the lyrics to “Elephant Gun,” he stopped to laugh, apparently overwhelmed by the positive atmosphere. The crowd joined him wholeheartedly, and then began to sing along with full force. Everyone happily bobbed and swayed as a breeze finally provided relief from the oppressive heat that had been present all weekend. The tranquil atmosphere at the show synced perfectly with Beirut’s exquisitely layered songs, making for one of the paramount experiences of the festival.
Other Sunday highlights: Iron & Wine, Robyn, Cold War Kids, The Strokes, Explosions In The Sky