By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The American band Beirut will grace the stage in Brazil for the first time this September. They will perform in the percussion festival PercPan in Salvador (4th and 5th) and Rio (8th and 9th). A couple of stops outside the circuit have been planned as well, in Rio (10th at Sala Cecília Meireles) and São Paulo (11th and 12th at Via Funchal). The band will play seven concerts in the country – quite a few chances for fans to witness their Brazilian debut.
The band is led by Zach Condon, a 23 year-old Santa Fe, New Mexico native, a self-taught artist who learned to play several instruments such as the trumpet and piano. At the age of sixteen, he decided to drop out of school and travel the world. That is when he got in contact with different cultures and traditional music and decided to make a music project. It started out as a solo, but then Beirut was born in 2006, along with eight musicians, and has since become the darling of indie-rock.
The unique sound of Beirut, part gypsy and part big band, was inspired in part by Zach’s time in Europe. “I kind of wanted a ramshackle orchestra. This is gonna sound like a romantic story, but when I was in Paris I saw this band of kids that all bought pawn shop instruments like busted up tubas and trumpets and stuff, and they would all wander around Paris, playing. They weren’t great musicians or anything, but it sounded awesome and was a lot of fun. I kind of wanted to mimic that idea.”
Zach recorded his first album “Gulag”(2006) on his own, alone in his bedroom, playing all the instruments. For that feat alone, critics claim he is a music genius who is now a kind of maestro to the rest of the band. In Brazil, Beirut will present songs from “Gulag”, “The Flying Club Cup”(2007) and “March of the Zapotec”(2008). The song “Elephant Gun” was included in the soundtrack of the TV Globo series ‘Capitu’, which brought the band success in Brazil.
Another curious fact about Condon is that he studied Portuguese at New Mexico University. “I wanted to learn the pronunciation. Portuguese is the most beautiful language to sing in. I’m a fan of Caetano Veloso, Jorge Ben Jor and Tropicalism. After France and the USA, Brazil is the third most important country for me. It will be great to finally be there,” he said in a recent interview with O Globo.
The PercPan concerts in Rio will take place at Teatro Oi Casa Grande, in Leblon. Information about prices and times has not yet been announced. Check the venue’s website in the next weeks for an update at http://oicasagrande.oi.com.br/.