( By Queen B) Balkan Beat Box hit the Summit Music Hall in Denver on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Opening support acts included My Wooden Leg and Denver’s own Men in Burka.
Balkan Beat Box, founded by Israeli-Americans Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan, emerged out of New York in 2005, but their sound is much more eastern than east coast. Their sound is an experimentation of Arabic and Spanish influences, Mediterranean, electronic dance, and well, it’s basically an exploration of world sounds.
At the core of Balkan Beat Box are three talented and diverse musicians: Tamir Muskat (percussion), Ori Kaplan (sax), and Tomer Yosef (lead vocals, percussion). For the concert, they added two more members on bass and guitar. The five-piece belted out over an hour’s worth of high energy “Mediterranean pop dance” music.
There was some feedback at the beginning of the set, but that seemed to get cleared up as the show went on. The crowd didn’t seem to notice much from what I could see. Everyone was busy dancing to the sounds of Balkan Beat Box, and to some of the drunker people, to some sounds in their heads.
Balkan Beat Box brought their energy to the Summit Music Hall. It was nothing short of what I expected from them. The first time I saw them they got me pumped and intrigued by the exploration some bands venture into, and the wild result that comes of it. It’s good to see that they have found fans here in Denver, and great local openers.
About Balkan Beat Box
(From facebook.com/balkanbeatbox) For the uninitiated, Balkan Beat Box first burst out of New York City’s underground music scene in 2005, with a self-titled debut that introduced the world to their Mediterranean-inflected, globalized electronica sound.
Founded by Israeli-born ex-pats Ori Kaplan (ex-Gogol Bordello), Tamir Muskat (ex-Firewater), the band built their reputation on explosive live shows. BBB soon added frequent collaborator Tomer Yosef as frontman – his wild onstage energy galvanizing live audiences ever since.
The three emerged as a cohesive songwriting trio on 2007’s Nu Med – Tamir crafting hard-edged beats, Ori orchestrating melodies and Tomer writing the hard-hitting lyrics – and took their sound to Belgrade and other points East on 2010’s Blue Eyed Black Boy.
Inspired by last year’s people’s protest movements across the globe – from the Arab Spring, to Occupy Wall St., to Israel’s own massive social protests Balkan Beat Box’s new album Give captures the cautious hope and re-energized spirit of our time.
Brimming over with handcrafted beats and samples, and recorded primarily at Tel Aviv’s Vibromonk East studio, Give was conceived of as “a smaller, more introverted album,” according to Ori Kaplan. “It was fun for us to see what just came out of the three of us while we played with old analog synths and children’s toys”.
“This is our most hardcore album so far,” says Tamir Muskat. “Definitely musically – there’s more of a harder-edged, electronic sound. The songs and their subjects are also kind of darker and more political.”
One of the other animating forces on Give is fatherhood – all three members have become fathers since the recording of their last album, and Tomer explains how that influenced the band’s outlook: “When you have kids, you become a little more aware of what’s happening in the world and what kind of world that we’re leaving your kids. “
“It was kind of a crazy vibe in the studio sometimes,” Tamir laughs. “We were recording some of our most hardcore songs ever, but our kids would be there, too, running around and playing in the middle of everything. I think it gave things a hopeful vibe, too… it reminds us that we’re fighting for something, not just against everything.”