Posted in music | pictures on June 19, 2011

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Rachel Kowal

Beirut

Thirty minutes before showtime, the forecast wasn't looking good. What started as a small shower soon escalated into a near downpour, sending a patchwork of different colored umbrellas springing up at McCarren Park Friday night.

Then it happened: the event that nearly broke Twitter. It began with a low rumble that quickly rippled through the crowd. Then, "OH MY GOD! DOUBLE RAINBOW!" Within seconds, every smartphone was tracked on the sky, and cries of jubilation and cheap sarcasm rang out. If you think Sharon Van Etten is a tough act to follow, try a double rainbow. But Yellow Ostrich was up for trying.

Soon after the buzz died down, the newly signed Barsuk trio took the stage. Somehow despite all the weather-related chaos that had transpired over the past 30 minutes subsided just in time for the show. A Northside miracle.

Recorded, Yellow Ostrich is a fine-tuned, feel-good indie machine, but in a live setting, front man Alex Schaaf and company aren't afraid to let down their hair a bit. Sure, you still get the carefully looped harmonies - a delight to hear in the excellent "Whale" - but the music also takes on a more desperate and raucous tone, especially on new songs like "The Shake Down."

Sharon Van Etten

As I watched the stage transform for Sharon Van Etten's set, my excitement grew - especially when I spied Aaron Dessner of The National fiddling around with wires. "Hello, everybody. Thanks for bearing the rain," Van Etten said by way of introduction. She began her set with "Peace Signs."

With her honest lyrics and down-to-earth demeanor, and soul-soothing voice, Sharon Van Etten makes quick work of winning over the crowd. (I mean the woman dedicated a song to her dad in honor of Father's Day. How nice, right?)

As an added bonus, the last three songs of her set featured two additional musicians - Ben Lanz (on trombone) and Aaron Dessner (guitar) who is apparently producing Van Etten's next record.

Then, after a brief interlude from our sponsor, Zach Condon and company emerged to a round of applause that almost seemed more fitting for a Justin Bieber show than for Beirut.

Though Condon composed much of his newer music with a 17-piece mariachi band in mind, the six people on stage impressively flushed out the sound by constantly rotating through an assortment of instruments, including: French horn, tuba, drums, trombone, trumpet, accordion, and piano. But it was the ukulele - the crux to much of his earlier catalog - that seemed to garner the most applause.

After two short sets, it was nice to see Beirut take their time on stage. The band enthusiastically played through their set - no doubt inspired not only by the dedication of the rain-braving crowd but also by the stunning scenery in the distance. "It's nice to be playing for the Chrysler and the Empire State Building," Condon remarked. Of course with such a healthy play time (19 songs, by my count), they covered both the standards ("Postcards From Italy," "Elephant Gun," "Nantes," "Scenic World," and "Mount Wroclai" to name a few) and a handful of newer songs.

Though I was tempted to stay longer, if there was an encore, I didn't see it. After missing out on Seapony twice last week, I dashed out of the park and over to Pianos, where I made it in time to hear the last five songs from the delightful Seattle group. For the record, it was totally worth it.

More pictures from the Beirut show below...

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Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich

Double Rainbow photo (via yfrog)
Double Rainbow

Yellow Ostrich

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Sharon Van Etten

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Beirut

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Comments (31)

Not much of a crowd?

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 2:18 PM

Not many crowd shots post-rain. I'd call it 5,000 probably.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 2:50 PM

"I'd call it 5,000 probably."

Oh you are such a liar. That is about as much of an exaggeration as this statement in the review:

"Then it happened: the event that nearly broke Twitter"

Idiots the lot of you.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 3:06 PM

It was really a great show. I could barely walk home after standing for so many hours (so instead I walked over to the Lucky Dragons show at Shea ) but it was great. Sharon Van Etten has a wonderful voice. I liked Yellow Ostrich, they reminded me of Born Ruffians a whole lot. Nice suprise to see Michael Tapper playing drums for them. I was stoked for Beirut but I realized I just don't listen to his stuff as much as I used to so it wasn't as magical as the first time I saw him but it was still really fantastic.

Posted by Mandy | June 19, 2011 3:12 PM

The only thing worse than the fans were the bands

Heavy pretention both on and off stage

Concerts in the 'burg will never change

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 3:26 PM

five "THOUSAND?"

maybe 500

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 3:50 PM

3:26 I thought all of the bands were really cool to the crowd throughout the night...? care to elaborate?

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 4:09 PM

This blog is way too into Sharon Von Etten. .

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 4:12 PM

No, we do not wish to elaborate because you are obviously ONE OF THEM.

If you don't see the problem with scenes like this, you are beyond help.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 4:21 PM

Agreed...those bands were SO pretentious. They way they played instruments and sang into microphones...who do they think they are?

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 5:42 PM

5:42

obviously a transplant from Iowa or New Jersey, now living on Driggs

has a crush on one of the band members, or possibly one of their instruments

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 6:04 PM

"Then it happened: the event that nearly broke Twitter."

There was been some pretty bad writing on this site, but that sentence takes the cake. Wow, so incredibly bad.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 6:39 PM

Looks like 4:21 is quite the pretentious asshole.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 6:58 PM

amy hot whores whip them out during the show?

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 7:41 PM

6:39 it was a joke. step away from the keyboard.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 7:47 PM

Yep, there were about 500 of us there. it was pretty sad as you can tell from even the reviewer writing that they 'dashed' off to see more music at Pianos afterward

if it was a halfway decent show people could go home happy, so if you are defending this show you are a loser

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 8:57 PM

BV hearts SVE

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 9:01 PM

BV commenters = one guy with questionable hygiene, sitting in tighty whiteys who never leaves his apartment.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 10:05 PM

The only people who refer to "transplants from New jersey" are from somewhere far outside the tri-state area.

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 10:34 PM

Seriously. What the fuck does transplants from New Jersey mean?

Posted by Anonymous | June 19, 2011 10:58 PM

capacity if approx 4500 and the show was "sold out". I'm sure weather deterred a bunch, but I doubt there were 4000 less people

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 12:21 AM

seems like the NJ transplants who now live in Brooklyn are a bit awkward about going from west side of the bridge-and-tunnel divide to east

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 6:50 AM

I think it's just a sign of the times that people are caring less and less about showing up at indie music shows just to look cool. And that's a good thing. RECLAIM THE SCENE!

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 8:05 AM

Please stop starting every one of you reviews with weather recaps.

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 8:31 AM

Congrats to Steve Madden for commissioning the ugliest stage backdrop known to man.

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 8:33 AM

8:05 - but nobody looked cool

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 1:50 PM

All the kids in Williamsburg within the last decade are from the midwest or somewhere right outside of NYC (i.e. Jersey, upstate NY). Rarely is anyone ever from Williamsburg.

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 1:51 PM

why are the comments above so negative about being a new jersey transplant? i am one, i now live in williamsburg. that makes me a transplant. rag on hipsters all you want, but brooklyn is 110 percent better than where we grew up. admit it fellow NJites.

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 8:14 PM

Hard to beat that reasoning, 8:14. You're not a fucking transplant for hopping over a small island and two rivers. And what's better about Williamsburg? It looks like Newark. And it's a fun place to be while you're young and stupid, but so is Hoboken. The difference being that the types who move to Hoboken have always been cool, whereas Billyburg peeps were mostly the least cool people in their high schools and now they're all clustered together to live a lie.

Posted by Anonymous | June 20, 2011 9:20 PM

This show was amazing, set list was the same as Wellmont, there were probably 1200 people, Zac came back and played Penalty for the first time in years solo, and Rachel Kowal please stop writing reviews.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2011 2:43 PM

I really wanted to go to this show but it was sold out by the time I heard about it (I've been really digging Yellow Ostrich since I saw them play a few times during their Pianos residency this February). I'm sad to see that it wasn't packed at all. Oh well, next time.

Posted by Christine | July 20, 2011 2:37 PM

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