I like almost every style of music, but there a few exceptions. I don’t mind dance music (though I am not super into dancing) but I just don’t really like the dancehall permutations of it, or, really, funk and genres like that. It is ok — even reggae, my least favorite genre of all, has its charms. But I don’t normally go out of my way to see dance music that draws on these styles, and where they tell you when to throw your hands in the air.
But friends wanted to go see Balkan Beat Box last Friday and I had few other plans, so was like, eh, ok. I had checked them out a little online and thought they might be ok — I didn’t like the reggae and dancehall influence, but I totally liked the klezmer and other traditional music that snakes its way into their songs.
They turned out to be about what I expected — enjoyable, but not anything that will stick with me. I always enjoy seeing inventive horns, and the clarinet and sax were the highlights of the Balkan Beat Box experience. There was a fair amount of hip hop influence — again, not a problem — and some boring dancehall stuff, and a lot of shouted inquiries from the singer in the vein of, “Are you ready, Washington?” People all seemed to like it — and even I ended up dancing. And at the end of the show, the crowd flooded the stage, dancing around up there like it was the Dismemberment Plan.
I guess there is nothing wrong with creating music for the sake of partying and dancing — it’s kind of what the roots of musical experience are all about. And I appreciated the musicality of the whole thing, and totally enjoyed the appropriation of motifs from klezmer and Arabic music. So, it was satisfying, and worth seeing. Just not really my thing; I generally prefer to make my own decisions about when to throw my hands up.