Beirut Returns to the Stage After Four Years… and It Was Worth the Wait

By Abbie Ginis / February 20, 2019

Listening to Beirut feels like falling in love. They’re bold and multi-dimensional, inspiring a desire to travel and roam the streets of foreign cities, having meaningful conversations with strangers a la “Before Sunrise”.

With a sound that is both worldly and otherworldly, Beirut plays mournfully, with Balkan, Mexican, and Italian brass band influences, incorporating a myriad of horn instruments such as the trumpet, trombone, and flugelhorn, on top of numerous others. In fact, there were no fewer than five instruments played at a time, including drums, keyboards, and the glockenspiel.

For nearly two hours, Zach Condon and his five-piece band captivated a packed, romance-craving crowd, capturing hearts and attention with a set that wholly encapsulated songs from all of his discography. From the very first notes of “When I Die,” we were hooked, drawn into a hypnotic daze of fuzzy memories and wanderlust. Even with the technical difficulties with the ukulele at the start, Condon was able to overshadow the brief feedback with his silken vocals and expert strumming.   

"Beirut makes you nostalgic for a time that never really belonged to you... generating the feeling of missing something without necessarily knowing what it is."

Beirut released their sixth studio album Gallipoli on February 1, nearly four years after the release of their 2015 No No No. The latest album returns to the early days of the mournful and worldly tones of The Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestrar. Fans who weren’t impressed with the deviation from the international sounds in the aforementioned album should be more than pleased with this rediscovered balance of modern indie-pop and traditional instrumentation. It’s deeply emotional and nostalgic, with tracks that make the most of both lavish and minimalist horn patterns.

Beirut’s set was all about the music. No fancy backdrops, outfits, or even choreographed dance moves or speeches embellished the evening. When an audience member shouted out, “happy birthday, Zach!” he jokingly replied, “thanks, I just turned 19.” He added that he typically sits out Valentine’s Day in favor of his birthday, which falls on the day before. However, aside from addressing the birthday wishes and audibly appreciating DC’s excellent Ethiopian cuisine, Condon muttered “thank you” after “thank you,” unable to string together more than those words. Addressing it, he said, “On nights like these I feel like I should say something, but there’s just flies buzzing up there.”

But there was no need for rehearsed speeches or one-sided conversation. Condon captivated with his magnetic and soaring vocals, singing songs that shared a brass motif, each one bleeding into the next, creating a fluent and near magical experience.

I’d always, selfishly, felt that “Postcards from Italy” belonged to me and my past. But as soon as those familiar opening chords struck, and gasps and cheers fluttered to the front of the venue, I knew that this was a song everyone had been waiting for. Couples squeezed closer, a woman behind me excitedly whispered, “I’m gonna cry!”, and I shut my eyes in an attempt to be alone, to let the nostalgic romance overcome me.

A lot has changed from the first time I’d heard that song until now, but hearing it will always bring me back to those different stages of life. I will always associate Beirut and “Postcards from Italy” with him, with Michigan, last minute concert purchases, summer nights, and burned CDs. With car rides that went silent when this song came on, both then and now. How I will never be able to disassociate this from you, us, and then. And how I don’t want to.

And I will love to see that day
That day is mine
When she will marry me outside with the willow trees
And play the songs we made
They made me so
And I would love to see that day
That day was mine

// "Postcards From Italy"  from Gulag Orkestrar

Beirut makes you nostalgic for a time that never really belonged to you.

Whether for a feeling you’ve never had, or a time that has yet to come or will never come, Beirut generates the feeling of missing something without necessarily knowing what it is.

Their music feels like it can change you, inspire you to become happier and more adventurous.




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Photo Gallery

Enjoy photos by our photographer Emily Vitek of Emily Vitek Photography.

About the author

Abbie Ginis

Abbie Ginis has been a music junkie for as long as she can remember. Hailing from Michigan (Go Blue!), she is eager to continue to explore and be immersed in the DMV music scene. When she's not at concerts, Abbie can be found at the movies or longingly ogling at puppies.