All About Mashrou’ Leila’s Concert at Zouk Mikael
The “Queer” Community Crashes the City of “Culture”
By: Rabih El Koussa and Lisa R. Riskalas
To formulate a synopsis of the events of the previous weeks, we asked many people at Light FM’s 25th anniversary celebratory concert, which was part of the Zouk Mikael International Festival, about what they have heard of the Free Patriotic Movement member Fouad Al Adem vs. Mashrou’ Leila dispute. Surprisingly, most people were not even aware of what has been going on. Yet after a brief explanation of the issue at hand, it was obvious that the Lebanese youths were supportive of the gay rights movements happening.
Previously, Al Adem has shown homophobic action requesting to boycott Mashrou’ Leila from Zouk Mikael and its renown festivals, clarifying that the city is religiously intolerant of “unnatural” acts of homosexuality. (Do we need to mention that homosexuality has been prevalent decades before Jesus Christ?). His posts have been given quite the attention by both sides of the struggle, the LGBTQ community as well as some locals.
Although the concert attendees were predominantly queer, we did get our hands on people who considered themselves straight. A group of straight AUB students considered that homophobia is a social disease, and that anyone who assesses the band based on Hamed Sinno’s sexuality is not even remotely fit to be part of the political community. We also interviewed a young straight man who lives in Zouk Mikael. His thoughts on the issue were clear. “Fouad Al Adem does not represent the majority of the city. He is entitled to his own opinion, yet has no right to label it as Zouk Mikael’s stance.” The supportive comments were overwhelming.
To not be considered one-sided, we also asked members of the general security what they thought was righteous. As expected, cooperation was minimal. Out of the six we questioned, only one responded. And what a response it was! He believed that for a political activist, Fouad Al Adem had to have more to worry about than a silly band playing a few songs. In accordance to what has been happening in Lebanon and the region, it is sad to see him giving attention to an issue which affects no one in particular, he added.
Moving on to the performance itself, Mashrou’ Leila was great! Their modern dance moves fused with the classical feel of the accompanying music left the crowds on their feet the whole time. The full house sang along to their most notable melodies. Their first performance was the infamous ‘Lil watan’ which all on its own fuelled the crowd, it continued with a few of their original songs ‘fasateen’, ’Imm el Jacket’, ‘Raasuk’, ‘Bahr’, ‘Wa Nueid’, ‘Abdo’, ‘Taxi’, among many others, and included their amazing Arabic cover for ‘Toxic’ (originally by Britney Spears).
Halfway through their exquisite performance, Hamed decided to dedicate a rather controversial song ‘Eskandar Ma’louf’ for none-other than Fouad Al Adem, giving their concert an even more enthusiastic state towards the gay community that filled the amphitheater both for musical and equality reasons.
Video of the above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drrx-Ej_IRg&feature=youtu.be
And because we believe that Mashrou’ Leila is not only about about Hamed Sinno, we find it necessary to mention that Haig Papazian’s contribution (from the violin) to the instrumental aura was delicately well-crafted and intricately magnificent!
Well done boys! And to the surprise of most, the band did not play ‘Shemm El Yasmeen’. Was that one of the guidelines set by the Zouk Mikael International Festival organising committee? No one knows. According to an inside source, Mashrou’ Leila’s performance was not confirmed until a day before the concert. We can’t imagine what would have happened if they had cancelled.
Only one band was left to perform after Mashrou’ Leila. But before Who Killed Bruce Lee even started, more than half of the people had left. Let’s just say attendees were tired, because Who Killed Bruce Lee was awesome! Luckily, we managed to interview Hamed Sinno backstage after the concert, and ask him some of the questions roaming every fan’s mind which we will be posting soon.