Go for Gaza. Stay for the Music!

Hello. It would be very cool and very charitable if you went to this thingy here.

BUT WHY SHOULD I INVEST TWENTY OF MY HARD-EARNED DOLLARS ON SOME CONCERT?

Well, as you might know, Israel has been picking on us all, and being douchebags in general, for quite some time now.  One of their latest delightful atrocities was attacking a harmless flotilla that belonged to the Free Gaza Movement, carrying aid supplies to Gaza… in international waters. The world was outraged, well a big majority of the world at least. So we Lebanese being the benevolent people we are decided to support Gaza. And support we shall, because all proceeds will go to the Free Gaza Movement.

I TOO WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT GAZA, BUT WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Well…

-Fareeq el Atrash: The best funk-rock-rap band in Beirut, who have literally never sucked… I swear.

Lazzy Lung: In a sea of bands trying to emulate that “Western” sound, they are by far the best darn ones yet. Catchy as hell too.

-Pop Will Save Us: Frankly, I have nothing to say to convince you why you should see PWSU, because I have neither seen them live myself nor purchased (or downloaded) their album. What’s certain is, they play poppy-dance-type stuff, and they come with the whole  package, so I guess it wouldn’t kill you to check them out, or just get a drink or something, I dunno…

-La Gale:  Swiss-Lebanese  female rapper who raps in French, thus, I cannot understand much of what she says, so you’re on your own for this one.

-Lumi: Turns out they’re alive. Well they’re notorious for their scarce live-appearances, but that shouldn’t be your motivation to see them. Blending rock with electronica isn’t that big an innovation these days, but luckily, they did it right. It’s not trip-hoppy like SoapKills though, it leans more towards, well, “synth-rock”.

Zeid & The Wings: One of the bigger groups around, Zeid Hamdan’s latest project features the traditional staples of rock music, as well as some things you might have not seen before, like some nay, and the occasional Arabic lyrics. It’s not really like The New Government, or SoapKills, it’s just its own thing, that’s all that can be said really.

-Rayess Bek: I think his band are still in town after performing on the 6th of June. So for those who missed them, now is your chance, they’re not here everyday. In fact, the 6th was their first time-ever here in Lebanon. Even Rayess Bek himself without the band was a rarity, until he came back in April and did some shows, so you’re in luck that you get to see his socio-political Franco-Arabic rhyming commentaries laid against live electro-acoustic-oriental-jazz beats, as opposed to pre-recorded ones. In case they’re not here though, you really shouldn’t complain either.

-Hiba el Mansouri: Well basically, SoapKills 2.0, which is awesome, and so is Hiba.

-The Incompetents: Recently, The Incompetents bridged the gap in their lineup, recruiting Marc Codsi as their drummer. Full-lineup or not, The Incompetents are a bit sparse with their performances, so seeing them is worth your while, for I have forever admired their goofy awesomeness…  

-RGB: He’s a decent rapper by himself, but you better hope he and Zeid perform their ska-rock-rap material. Where else can you hear a  psuedo-homage to Bob Marley through Arabic rap?

– Tania Saleh: Acoustic-folk-rock Arabic songs from one of the local veterans!

Miah: I swear I have no idea, but I’m guessing French folk-pop or something… I dunno, surprise yourselves!

In conclusion: Go.

Thank you very much.

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The Road to Kfifan: The Return! (September 24, 2009)

This was the second incarnation of Road to Kfifan, which was due to take place September 19 in Sporting Club, but was delayed due to rain. Rayess Bek, who has not performed here quite the long time, was to make a spectacular comeback, but the weather made that impossible. It was still taking place in Sporting club, but to make up for his absence, three, not one, but three new acts were brought in. There was Ziad Nawfal, A.K.A DJ Panic, DJing, Serge Yared of The Incompetents and the pianist Vladimir Kurumilian performing reworked versions of Incompetents songs for guitar and piano, and the hip hop band, Fareeq el Atrash, who I was supposed to see at an event earlier that Monday which was also delayed by the rain, so I was glad I would be seeing them twice in one week. Though in the end, no amount of artists could replace Rayess Bek.

 -Before the Show: The weather was great, not a cloud in the sky. I did some socializing while Ziad Nawfal DJed. There were a lot of photographers and cameramen, the most I have ever seen at a show actually.

 -The Show: After a while, Serge Yared and Vladimir Kurumilian took to the stage. They played versions of Incompetents songs reworked for guitar and piano. They played some songs from “More Songs from the Victorious City” and also a couple new ones. Ziad Nawfal was there to do his spoken word bit himself this time for “The Damned Don’t Cry”. One song that stood out was “Monster Song” which I was seeing live for the first time. It was played on guitar, piano, and a toy piano with a crappy little microphone, so that was something unexpected.

 More DJing by Ziad followed. Later on, it was time for the Baalbak Project or Mashrou3 Baalbak to go on which is a group consisting of Zeid Hamdan, Hiba El Mansouri, RGB, and Miles Jay. Miles Jay could not make it, since he had prior plans to play with another mashrou3. Mashrou3 Leila, in Saida. So Zeid and Hiba took the stage at performed their own songs, no SoapKills covers. Zeid was operating his machines and playing guitar. As I mentioned, there was many a cameraman and photographer. People were mostly watching from a distance. After that, RGB joined in but before he started performing, he called for people to gather in front of the stage, and so they did, that little area soon became quite crowded, and I swear, it stayed that way till I left. RGB needs an active audience. He performed two of his songs with Zeid, “Ma3na L’Rap” and “Awwast Il Sherif”. Beats were played on the laptop while Zeid played guitar along to them. Hiba joined on “Awwast Il Sherif”. The special thing about this performance was that the first time I heard these songs live they were played acoustic (Crate Sessions), then they were played electric, but just with guitar, bass, and drums (Three Little Pigs), and now this was electric with sound effects and everything. I heard these songs performed in ascending fidelity.

 DJ Panic gave us all an interlude while Katibe 5 prepped themselves. Katibe 5 was not one of the groups I wasn’t looking forward to seeing, but still I wanted to check them out. They were very energetic, I’ll give them that, but I didn’t really find that “hook”. The fact that they rapped to prerecorded tracks was a bit of a turn off for me.

 Ziad bridged the gap between them and the next act, Fareeq el Atrash. This show marked the debut/ return of their guitarist Ghassan Khayyat. The set they played was similar to that they played in Zico House, nothing new, though the presence of guitar this time around did mix things up a bit (in a good way). As usual, all the members were very energetic and lively, though Ghassan could have loosened up a little.

 -After the Show: That was it. There was Trash Inc., Underdolls, and Jade after that but was not interested in them. I said my goodbyes, knowing that I would see Fareeq el Atrash once again that Sunday, and made haste.

 -Photos:

*Personal: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=323946&id=842365214

 *Other: Tanya Traboulsi:

http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs215.snc1/8220_288189230108_602430108_8916276_8143044_n.jpg

http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs235.snc1/8220_287744450108_602430108_8907494_1255734_n.jpg

http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs235.snc1/8220_287744455108_602430108_8907495_4441130_n.jpg

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=8907495&id=602430108#/photo.php?pid=8921487&id=602430108

 -Videos:

*Personal: I have a video of Fareeq el Utrush that I will edit in when I get to upload it.

*Other:  Fareeq el Atrash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx5Bi8-4tOU

Show Review: The Crate Sessions: Zeid Hamdan – Live @ Walimat Wardeh (August 25, 2009)

-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