One of the more intriguing and mysterious figures in modern music is Beck, and he’s hitting the road this summer to provide more lasting memories for those lucky enough to attend his shows. Some would call Beck a musician, while others would label him as a poet. The general consensus, however, is that there is no label for Beck. Everyone who sees him and enjoys his music comes away with a different meaning and effect, and that trend will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future.
Beck was born Beck David Campbell on July 8, 1970 in Los Angeles. His parents seemingly passed his unique set of artistic talents onto him, as his father, David Campbell, was a musician, and his mother, Bibbe Hansen, was a visual artist. One can definitely see and hear these influences in Beck’s work.
Beck’s parents separated early in his life, and Beck adopted his mother’s last name. He stayed in Los Angeles with his mother, and it was here that he gained his first outward exposure to the world of music. Beck spent much of his time in Los Angeles dabbling in interests that included hip hop, rap, rock and roll and Latin music, and eventually, all of these styles were morphed into Beck’s work.
In the mid-1980’s, Beck dropped out of high school and began to educate himself through travel. Beck visited many places, including Germany, before eventually “settling” in New York City, where his musical boundaries were widened once again by his exposure to the punk and anti-folk scenes.
Beck paid for much of his poverty-ridden lifestyle by simply performing on the street with a hat or guitar case, and it was this experience that not only taught him the value of stage presence, but it also reinforced the belief in Beck that the responsibility of putting on a show along with just playing music was a crucial element in an artist’s success.
In 1990, Beck moved back to Los Angeles, where he lived in a series of hovels and worked several low-level, dead-end jobs to augment his income he made by street performing. During this time, Beck tirelessly searched out venues that would allow him on stage to perform, and his tireless efforts eventually led to “the break” that every musician needs.
Career Takes Off
Beck was discovered in Los Angeles by the founders of Bong Load Custom Records, and the first single Beck recorded for them is still his biggest hit to date. The single Loser was released in 1993, and the demand for this single astonished everyone involved with the project. Radio stations everywhere were looking for copies of the single to satisfy their listeners. Eventually, a bidding war between highly-visible record labels led Beck to sign with Geffen Records.
Since then, Beck has produced eight subsequent “official” albums as well as several independent releases with smaller labels. Every one of Beck’s albums has sold at least 200,000 copies, and his biggest seller was the 1996 release Odelay, which sold over 2,000,000 copies worldwide.
Frantically Standing Still
One of the most disappointing things in modern music, releasing the best album you could hope to achieve, Beck’s album Sea Change (2002), and then having to live beyond that, much the way Dave Matthews Band continued after Before These Crowded Streets. Although he’s gone on to release four more records since Sea Change, none of them carry the same emotional depth, insight, or gravity that we find ourselves betwixt every time we put that record on.
We have noticed, that he has been working with a ton of collaborators, projects with Jack White, Childish Gambino, Stephen Malkmus, Amon Tobin, Bat For Lashes as well as Lonely Island. Its all part of the need to stay relevant in this industry. Do not leave this article thinking I hate Beck, just the opposite, I love Beck, and i hope with all my heart he finds a way to tap into the essence of Sea Change on the “New Acoustic Album” he announced back in April.
Musical experts from every corner of the globe have struggled for years to find an appropriate artist for comparison. The list is long and varied, which speaks to just how unique Beck’s style really is. Several prominent artists that have drawn these comparisons include Prince, The Beastie Boys and even Bob Dylan.
Beck’s unique style of music is no more or less memorable than the stage show he provides. Props are often used, and humor is always a central part of any performance. Beck also enjoys collaborating with other artists both in the studio and on tour, and he has appeared and/or worked with the likes of The Flaming Lips, David Bowie and Jack White of the White Stripes.
Beck will continue to thrill and sometimes baffle the music industry with his style and eccentricities, and his tour this summer will encapsulate all that he’s learned and accomplished in his career.
Beck 2013 Tour Dates:
07/02 – Paris, FR @ Days Off Festival
07/27 – Wantagh, NY @ Americanarama Festival #
07/28 – Newport, RI @Newport Folk Festival
07/30 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
08/02 – Boston, MA @ Bank of America Pavilion *
08/04 – Brooklyn, NY @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Celebrate Brooklyn) *
# = w/ Bob Dylan, Wilco, Ryan Bingham
* = w/ full band/electric show