May 1st A.K.A: Labor Day. A campaign by the name of “24/7”, with the objective of granting migrant workers in Lebanon their rights, such as a day off, held a free concert in an effort to raise public awareness of the issue. Free concert in the afternoon on the Ein el Mreise’ sidewalk? Fuck yeah.
Like every single thing to ever happen in this city ever, it started late. The fact that it was the afternoon made it forgivable though… Well not really, because the sun was really glaring that day. The crowd was “interesting”. You had some people genuinely interested in what was going on, and other who were either rude or confused by it all. I’m not snobby or elitist, but I’m very picky when it comes to the “vibe” and general atmosphere. It’s sort of part of the whole package of a show. But you see, there is actually a formula one could follow to concoct such a crowd.
Attracting a Crappy Crowd in Two Simple Steps:
1-Setting: The more public, easily accessible, and standard the location, the better your chances. As for time, mid-day is when everyone is out and about, including children and tweens.
2-Occasion: Provided the setting has been selected with regards to the previous step, having this performance for a specific purpose other than entertainment would help. This could be tough, as it could still be important to some attendants, and you suffer the possibility of someone giving a fuck, but something like “In Memoriam of the Death of Nikola Tesla” will do the trick. Generally, anything that attempts to raise awareness or inform: Political cause (which ISN’T biased towards a specific party), social issue (something-sex related preferably), promoting a product or artistic project (CD, movie, book, provided that it revolves around something not many would care for). The opposite of this is, just playing so people can party…
Bonus Points: Being extremely experimental and different helps. This includes your genre, and language in which you perform it. English would do, but is relatively acceptable. Arabic is more acceptable than English, but it comes down to the subject-matter then, so you have a window there. French will work 100% of the time… Well no, but it beats English and Arabic.
Also, free entrance, because noone wants to pay to heckle.
Note: All and/or any results are not guaranteed.
HOWEVER, it is crucial to realize that this is the kind of crowd one must strive to attract, for it is the ideal crowd. Attracting this kind of crowd means you’ve made it. Because this sort of crowd is “the public”, raw and unfiltered, it’s not an elite section of society that you have a good chance of winning over. See, if the bandrocks, they will have introduced some very unlikely people to something very nice. If not, they’ll let you know… bastards.
But that’s not the point really. So someone briefly talked about the issue for which we were all gathered here, the rights of migrant workers. In fact, there was a march of solidarity that started at the Qarantina Bridge and lead here. Some actual migrant workers also briefly spoke.
First up was Zeid & The Wings. Today, they were an eight piece band, since when I first saw them in Zico House, they lacked a bassist and drummer. It’s basically Zeid’s solo stuff, but more layered and intricate. See in the old days, he used to play some of these very songs acoustic, or electric with minimal elements. So now you’ve got it all electric, all live. Some of it leans more towards reggae and dub, some towards standard rock. Some in English, some in Arabic. There aren’t many bands here with backup singers just for that purpose (usually a musician will do backing vocals as well), so that’s cool. The nay is a nice touch also. At one point, RGB, who was roller-skating that day, joined Zeid onstage (on skates) and performed one of their reggae-rock-rap songs, “Awwast l’Sherif”. Aren’t those ever going to be recorded? Wasn’t there an album in the works? “Blacklisted”? No?
The crowd was crappy for the most part, well not THAT much, but they would have bugged you, to say the least. Although they sorta changed their tune when RGB came on, you know, rapping in Arabic and all.
Next up were Lazzy Lung (pronounced “lazy”, not like “jazzy”, as I had presumed), whom I had never heard prior. All I knew was that they were a four-piece rock outfit. Sorry to say, I knew none of the songs or their titles, but they played about four or five songs. They were something new. As many local bands do, they play very western-influenced material, but they presented by far the most accurate version of that sound, and that sound could be called alternative-indie-pop-rock. In a way, easily marketable stuff, which I could totally play a Tony Hawk game to. But why? What separated them from Scrambled Eggs, for example? I thought it could be because of frontman Allan Chaaraoui, the main songwriter and composer, who also happens to be half Canadian. But this notion was eventually thrown out the window, due to the universal nature of music (each culture’s folk music is still somewhat exclusive to its respective region, but most modern genres have become fairly cosmopolitan due to globalization and the cyber-revolution). But really, dwelling on this little detail is insignificant. I guess it’s one of life’s beautiful enigmas… Thank you Lazzy Lung, for successfully pulling this style off right here, much plane ticket cash has been saved! Huzzah!
The crowd however, was oblivious to this. Love those wisecracks…
Moving on, an improptu set by two members of the group Walad, Mohammad Hodeib and Aram Papazian. Hodeib on acoustic guitar and Papazian on percussion, they played about three or four songs which were reminiscent of Munir Khauli’s music, but more modern, for their style was what you would call folk-rock, but the lyrics were sometimes delivered in a sort of rap, and what I mean by that is, instead of being sung melodically, they’re just spoken, sort of like what Munir Khauli used to do, except he was less rappy. Another similarity was subject matter. Hodeib spoke of social issues such as poverty and legalizing marijuana. Khauli too spoke of similar topics, maybe more lightheartedly. Walad themselves are a group worth checking out, so please do.
Hot on their heels was Fareeq el Atrash… Well, there were delays between each act, so… yeah. Now, I’ve said a lot about Fareeq el Atrash in the past, so from now on, I will not cover their performances unless something notable goes down. Luckily, something notable did go down that day! Various things, which had nothing to do with the music itself.
Those rowdy teens, or “ze3ran l’corniche”, changed their tune, hearing the upbeat Arabic rap of Edd and Chyno backed by the funk-rock beats of John Imad Nasr, Ghassan Khayyat, and FZ, and started popping and locking in a clearing in front of the stage. Meanwhile, the band inducted a new rhythm guitarist into the band on the spot; some kid with a toy guitar. Clearly, this is the payoff of winning over the classic “crappy crowd”. That is until… An elderly gentleman asked the boys to stop, due to the adhan (the call to prayer) being broadcast from the nearby mosque. Ladies and gentleman, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ON TIME! Thank you.
But luckily, after a brief pause, they resumed/ concluded their set. Following them was some foreign group from somewhere in Africa, which consisted of a vocalist, keyboardist, and violinist. I wasn’t really that into it, and that was the end of it all anyway…