Woo hoo!!! I had the very good fortune to catch the Balkan Beat Box concert last night at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. I don’t get out to the clubs an awful lot, but boy am I glad I caught this particular gig – they did not disappoint!
For the uninitiated, here is a description of BBB, cribbed from their MySpace site:
Balkan Beat Box is steeped with an intense lifetime of research into their own non-Western roots as well as other cultures. A quasi-circus event, BBB performs with a core of 6 musicians, collaborating with artists from Bulgaria, Morocco, Spain, Israel, and Turkey who draw on a variety of styles from around the world. Every event keeps the audience guessing what the next surprise will be.
BBB makes connections that politics often keep separate. Jewish, Gypsy, Arabic, and American are united by hip hop beats and dancehall toasts. BBB’s musical hitch-hiking continues as they mix things up with dub and electronics, juxtaposed with ancient Moroccan and Mediterranean melodies. The band’s uncategorizable sound gives equal weight to soulful acoustic timbres and digital rhythms creating a uniquely organic sound with electronic elements.
Yep, that pretty much sums ’em up. And it’s true: BBB is one of those acts that you must absolutely see live to get the full effect of their artistry. This band is clearly at the height of its musical power – this was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in a long time in any genre (make that multi-genre…)
Last night was the final stop on their current tour, but don’t pass up the chance to see them on their next go around. In the meantime, check out their great new album, “Nu-Med” or click below for a clip of them performing in Europe. (That’s the chronically shirtless, indefatigable lead singer Tomer Yosef singing “Ramallah Tel Aviv,” the song that closed last night’s show.)
(Eternal thanks to Adam Davis and the good folks at Kfar Jewish Arts Center for bringing BBB to town!)