Concert Review: Balkan Beat Box

The group proved its talent for maintaining a more or less perpetual and infectious groove.

Balkan Beat Box Hangar 11 Tel Aviv Port February 16 Touted as the most successful of Israeli music's current batch of exports, Balkan Beat Box has been playing some of the world's biggest festivals and has been touring non-stop for about three years now. The group's core trio - Ori Kaplan, Tamir Muskat, and Tomer Yosef - are all Israeli-born, although BBB formed itself in New York out of the ashes of indie punk ensembles like Firewater and Gogol Bordello, earning a fan buzz in the Diaspora years before doing so in the homeland. Regardless, BBB's Israel appearances are always treated as homecomings, and its Tel Aviv port show was no exception. Balkan Beat Box's music is tailor made for the post-rave, cosmopolitan-meets-world-beat hipster generation. Saturday night the group proved its talent for maintaining a more or less perpetual and infectious groove, but despite the on-stage antics and real-time improvised video mash-up accompaniment, it was a bit odd that the crowded throngs in attendance were clearly in a rock show headspace. Adding to the surrealism of the scene was the arena skybox-style, JDate-sponsored VIP section (essentially an iron loft) where the richer and older crowd sat at bar stools, watching the plebian action from what must have been at least 50 meters away. The evening did offer its share of rock concert moments, though, with members of Habiluim shaking up the pace by coming on stage with BBB for two of their own clunky yet sweet songs and guitarist Berry Sakharof joining in later on. A poly-ethnic rock and roll rave-circus, BBB kept Tel Aviv bouncing into the wee hours.