North Adams, MA: What does Mediterranean Hip Hop Fusion sound like? Sample Balkan Beat Box’s video above, or better yet plan to see them in person when they shake the Berkshires up. The dance floor at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center promises to get wild on Saturday, March 16, at 8 PM, when the explosive energy and Mediterranean-influenced music of Balkan Beat Box comes North Adams.
Balkan Beat Box burst onto the New York City underground music scene in 2005 with a self-titled debut album that introduced the world to its mix of Balkan traditions, hip hop, and electronica. Founded by Israeli-born, now-Brooklyn-dwelling musicians Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat (and now including Tomer Yosef, Balkan Beat Box has built a reputation as a “global peacekeeping mission you can dance to,” according to SPIN. The New York Post recently warned concert-goers to “come prepared for a raucous night.”
Kaplan and Muskat met in Brooklyn, New York, as teenagers, having grown up around music: Kaplan was a klezmer clarinetist and Muskat was a punk rock drummer. Together they created their own musical style fusing Balkan and Middle Eastern musical stylings with Gypsy punk, electronic, and hip hop beats. Balkan Beat Box also draws inspiration from Jamaican dub.
As a unit, the group often collaborates with a host of other musicians, both in the studio and onstage.
Balkan Beat Box’s self-titled first album was released in 2005, and focuses mainly on Mediterranean sounds. Their follow-up release, 2007’s Nu Med, includes Arabic and Spanish influences. Both albums have received global acclaim. The Forward raves that the group boasts “finesse without a touch of self-confidence: the instruments include laptops and kitchen utensils, ancient Saharan dialects share the stage with neologisms… adventuresome.”
Balkan Beat Box hits the Hunter Center stage on Saturday, March 16, at 8 PM. Drinks from the MASS MoCA bar and dinner from Lickety Split will be available before and during the show. Tickets are $15 in advance, $19 on the day of the show, and $10 for students. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located off Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11 AM until 5 PM (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.