-Before the Show: This was the first of a still ongoing series of performances referred to as “The Crate Sessions”. The Crate Sessions is the brainchild of Serge Yared of The Incompetents, who also DJs at the restaurant/ pub, Walimat Wardeh, located on Makdessi Street (next to the Marble Tower building), Hamra. The idea is that, every Tuesday at Walimat, an artist will come and perform, but he/she must use an amp provided to him/her. That amp is a Crate CA15. The point of all of this is to see what happens when different artists are forced to perform under the same conditions, with the same method of amplification. Zeid Hamdan (Shift Z) of SoapKills and The New Government fame kicked off the series.
This was the second musical event I ever attend, so I brought some friends along, who also accompanied me on my first ever expedition into the underground, The Incompetents at Daraj El Fann. We got there early. I like getting to these kinds of things early. You get to soak up the atmosphere of the venue before the show, as opposed to just arriving and diving head first into the situation. It was my first time ever there and I knew that it was somewhat of a hotspot for musicians and artists and such; A very “alternative” place. So, I brought some CDs along with a marker, just in case. ( :3 )
We were greeted by Serge, behind the bar/ DJ workplace located near the door. I had made reservations, so we got a table and ordered some food (to my friends’ dismay). While sitting at the table, I spied a familiar face. It was Hamed Sinno of Mashrou3 Leila. I’m a big fan of Leila. I had taken this into account, and as luck would have it, I had brought along the “96.2 FM Modern Music Contest” CD, which is the only CD that features their material available for purchase (for now). I greeted him, and learned that Ibrahim Badr, bassist of Mashrou3 Leila was with him also. A quick chat about how recording is going, the Leka@Eka3 tour (who the rest of the band were on abroad), and the amusing fact that the most prestigious Deir El Qamar Festival people uploaded a video of Mashrou3 Leila performing “3al 7ajeez” on their Youtube account with the title “3akrout song”, followed by a signature and friendly handshake, and with that, we parted ways.
More waiting followed, but then Zeid had finally arrived. I greeted him, got “Party Animals” signed, and he proceeded to start his performance.
-The Show: Serge had told me that Zeid would not be performing alone, but with Hiba El Mansouri and RGB. Prior to that night I had never heard of Hiba, and had only known RGB by name. Zeid kicked off his performance, using Serge’s acoustic guitar, playing some of his own personal material and some New Government material, which included “The New Government” and “Murder In Slow Motion”. Hiba El Mansouri then joined him in performing some of her own songs, “Lola” was among those, and some SoapKills material, “Aranis” was played. Finally, the crowd was in for some acoustic hip hop, as Zeid was joined by RGB. They performed some of RGB’s songs such as “Ma3na L’Rap” and “Awwast El Sherif”.
-After the Show: It was a good performance overall, very informative as well, because between some songs Zeid would give a little note, a tidbit, a piece of history behind that song. He said how Aranis was inspired by the activity of a certain street. How Zeid first discovered RGB and his fomer group, Kita3 Beirut, beatboxing in a tree.
I went back to the table. Oh, did I mention that my friends didn’t even bother getting up? They were too preoccupied with Bullshit. Yes, that’s right, they had been playing a card game called Bullshit, claiming that they could see and hear just fine from where they were. Brief personal remark here, but a live performance is all about seeing. If you’re not eager to get a good spot, or focus on the performer, just pop a CD into the stereo at home…
So I got up to do some socialization. I spoke to Zeid again, and met RGB for the first time. I spotted Ziad Nawfal as well, but he had to leave. I went back to the table and joined in the card game my friends were playing (I learned it on the spot and sucked at it, like I do with many other games).
And so, we departed. I had seen Zeid Hamdan, one of Beirut’s most well known alternative musicians perform, and was introduced for the first time to Hiba El Mansouri, and RGB. Walimat is alright in my book.
For information on past and future performances as part of The Crate Sessions, check this group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=118734329783&ref=ts
For information on the restaurant Walimat Wardeh, birthplace and host of The Crate Sessions, check this group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=2458771491&ref=ts