Ah, such fond memories of this show… First of all, it was my first concert ever. Not my first Lebanese concert ever. First. Concert. Ever. I had been in contact with their lead singer, Serge Yared, for a while back then, so it was a planned meeting, and I was very looking forward to it. And so the day came. It was the last day of finals at school (don’t worry, I passed!), and I’d bought Ziad Nawfal’s compilation CD “The Ruptured Sessions” after finding out that “The Incs” have a new song of theirs on it called “Stripped”. This CD is basically a compilation of acoustic performances from Ziad Nawfal’s radio show “Ruptures” on 96.2FM (every Friday, Saturday, and Monday from 8:00PM to 9:00PM *advertising*), which features Charbel Haber (of Scrambled Eggs), Cristobal, and the main reason I got it honestly, The Incompetents!
-Before the Show:
I always get to shows early. For future reference (in case this thing gets some attention and anyone wants to meet me in person and ask me what mental condition I suffer). So I get there to find them about to start doing sound check (I believe). So before they got started (or maybe they were just taking a break). I got the chance to meet the guys and ask random questions, cause you know, to me, there are two things to do at a show: 1) See the show. 2) Meet the artist. They were all nice enough to give me their autographs too, twice! For some reason, their drummer Amine Daher had a copy of April Ash’s debut, and only CD, “Home”. Amine was the drummer for April Ash, along with fellow incompetent, Fadi Tabbal on bass. He gave me a free copy of the April Ash CD, and I am extremely grateful (although to tell you the truth April Ash weren’t as spectacular as The Incompetents, but that’s just my own taste). After a while, they got back on stage to continue (or begin) sound check. Now, I hadn’t been to a concert before in my life, so I saw this as a pretty “behind-the-scenes” type thing, but I would later learn in time that sound check is were all the mistakes are exposed in order to be fixed, so it’s basically the crappy version of the whole show to come… and I enjoyed watching it! Unfortunately, I enjoyed it a little more than I should have. I got a lot of videos of it. Dark, shadowy, videos. Oh well. After that they vanished into the streets…
The “show” had started, but it wasn’t the actual show I was waiting for. The Incompetents were to be the closer of that night (best for last!). First was some Arabic poet guy, then Genevieve Youness (don’t ask why I remember her name and not his. I honestly have no clue why). There were VIPs there. I had arranged with some friends to join me there. They eventually showed up and had to sit through Genevieve Youness (guys, I’m sorry). Then after the poet and the singer were done, those VIPs were in for a first-class perfor- wait no, they all left. They had invaded the front row earlier, and when they were leaving, I asked the organizer-lady if we could sit there now, having been exiled from there earlier, and she said: “of course, what else is there for us now anyway?” An awesome band perhaps? Oh well, just give me your seat lady. Then, the guys appeared as mysteriously as they had vanished. They hopped onto the stage and began their set.
Unfortunately, as it has been a really long time since that show, I do not remember the set list, but I do remember that there was “The Damned Don’t Cry”, which my friends got excited about thinking it was the song “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses, only to be let down by my clarification, “Bullets Gently Flying Over My Head”, one of my favorites of theirs, where Fadi was having trouble finding his slide, a reworked version of “Disposable Valentine”, which was much more to my liking, more upbeat and energetic, “Prelude to an Abyss”, a new song called “It’s Closing Time”, and a couple more, the whole thing being finished off by a “Urinal Blues (Part 2)” that you can see a brief clip of at the bottom of this post. Abed Kobeissy, the bassist mainly, dons an empty water bottle (the big kind), held to his waist by a belt generously donated by fellow local artist Youmna Saba, who had collaborated with Fadi for her debut album “Min Aafsh El Beit” and still performs live with him. The water bottle provides the percussion now, and it is accompanied by the kazoo playing of Serge and Abed, along with acoustic guitar by Fadi, and extra percussion by Amine. The song ends patriotically, with the band’s own quirky rendition of the Lebanese national anthem. Throughout all of these songs, the sound was great and the band very “into it”, for example, Serge’s occasional dancing.
-After the Show:
It had truly been a magical night, and all that was let to do now was to say goodbye, and depart, but not before a photo of course. Before the photo, Serge’s sister, Nathalie stopped by to say hello. I quickly did, and I got that photo I wanted. I got to hold the previously mentioned water bottle. And so, we parted ways, each of us having gained a lot from that night. The Incompetents had played what Serge later called “our best concert ever”, my friends got a chance to see a Lebanese band that wasn’t a repetitive cover band, and I had attended my first concert ever, met these four amazing people, got into the whole “Lebanese underground” phase, and earned myself a nickname from Nathalie Yared: “The Only Fan”.