Beirut | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Beirut, aka Zach Condon, is a 20-year-old high school and college dropout who spent one not-so-distant summer bumming around Europe, where he was exposed to the music of Balkan composers. Back home in New Mexico, mostly working solo, he started recording emulations of Gypsy orchestras and the hard, mournful brass bands of the eastern bloc; he made tracks from Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing!), his debut as Beirut, available online, where they were feted by the blog set months before the album's May release. Much has been made of Beirut's loyalty to old-world music, and of how Condon sounds much older than he is, but his (much older) heroes--Morrissey and Stephin Merritt--are there in his quivering baritone as it floats above the trumpet and mandolin strum und klang. In a recent interview, Condon (who now lives in Brooklyn) confessed that this music is just a passing phase--previously he was into doo-wop and tropicalia--and that he's already working on a new sound. So if you fancy his wild style, you'd best catch him while he's still on the bloc. Condon is playing here with a full band; Devin Davis and Essie Jain open. This is a Chicago Underground Film Festival party; see Movies for more on the fest. Sat 8/19, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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