CULTURE

Exotic sounds woven into rock festival’s bill

Now approaching its finale, the six-day Gagarin Open-Air Festival, this summer’s biggest rock festival in Athens – in terms of duration and number of acts – enters its fifth night this evening (Olympic Baseball Arena, Hellenikon, southern Athens) with popular Arizona group Calexico as the headline act on a bill that includes Beirut, A Hawk and a Hawksaw, and klezmer act Sophie Solomon. Overall, tonight’s bill promises lots of exotic musical charm. Calexico, for instance, have grown to become one of the contemporary scene’s more appealing acts on the strength of a sound that is heavily reliant on mariachi-Mexican elements. Beirut, a one-man project undertaken by singer and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon, which proved to be one of the indie scene’s more unanticipated success stories of last year, combines a wide variety of styles, from pop-rock, Eastern European Gypsy styles and indie-folk. Condon, who dropped out of high school, claims to have traveled through Europe at the age of 16, an experience that aroused his interest in Balkan folk and Gypsy music. A Hawk and a Hawksaw share similar ethnographic interests. The band’s second album, 2005’s «Darkness at Noon,» delved into Eastern European music. Band leader Jeremy Barnes traveled to Romania to record with the Gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia for the act’s third album, last year’s «The Way the Wind Blows.»