SOS Music Festival a success for all concerned
CAIRO: The first ever SOS Music Festival took place on Friday, showcasing a wide variety of new Egyptian music for an enthusiastic crowd at Cairo International Conference Center s Chinese Garden.
Brain Candy opened the event, warming up the crowd in the afternoon sun with their distinctive brand of punk rock. As the day wore on and more people arrived, the music took a more mellow turn, with soft rock and oriental jazz bands taking the stage.
But some of the bands’ messages were anything but mellow. Amir Eid, lead singer with newcomers Cairo Kee, explained the message behind the band’s “Mawwal el-Fuul wal-Lahmeh, saying, “The government wants the people to put up with the conditions in the country (represented by fuul in the song,) but we say ‘no, thank you, we deserve more (i.e., meat.)’
As with all the acts playing at the festival, Eid hoped that the event would garner them much-needed publicity and hopefully lead to more independent-minded music getting produced.
If the audiences get bigger with each event, that should help, says Eid, who currently has to supplement his income by making music for advertisements.
Many of the bands mixed Western and Oriental styles and instruments, creating music with a markedly Egyptian flavor, while rai act Sahara also went down well with their more North African sound.
The organizers ticketing policy of asking festival-goers questions to make sure they were coming for the music seemed to work. Even though organizers reported a few isolated incidents of trouble, these were quickly dealt with by security. The crowd was generally good-humored and the overwhelming sentiment was one of excitement at the prospect of getting to see so much fresh talent.
Alfred Raouf, a programmer at the German University, hoped it would help these bands break through into the mainstream. Who is Ruby beside these bands? Nothing. There are at least seven bands here that are 10 times better than her, but she found someone who would produce her. I appreciate the fact that this festival gives them publicity.
The organizers of course saved the big names until last. The penultimate act was Resala, who got a strong reaction from the crowd with their lyrics about the problems of Egyptian youth, from frustrated love to the desire of many to emigrate. The band got an exception to the festival’s ban on covers to give a rendition of Sayed Darwish’s “Shidd El-Hizam.
After the band’s set, Shady Hamza, the band’s lead singer said it was “the best gig he’d ever played, “It was the first time we’d played in front of so many people; it was amazing.
Headliners Wust El Balad were of course last to play. After starting with an Islamic hymn, the band moved on to play a set of their famous hits including “Oh Ya Lalaly and “Su’al Wahid. Even though it was almost 1 a.m. by the time the band finished and the crowd had started to thin out, those who were left clearly loved the performance, with many singing along to the lyrics.
Organizer Garo Varbedjian judged the event a success, “We’re very pleased with the results; we got great feedback from the crowd. We sent out 9,000 invitations and we think that out of them, 8,000 attended.
Varbedjian said that further SOS events would be announced in the coming days. Another festival is expected before the end of the year, and there are plans for an Eid event at one of the Red Sea resorts.