Life goes on, and on and on and on
Tough couple of weeks. Everything seems covered by a pall. Looks like I will not be making it to the states for my much needed re-sanity break/lovesick-escapade. I have decided though, that I was gonna make the best of the looming academic lull and try to have a little more fun on this side of the Gulf Stream. Some diminutive travels are in the works, but first…
I just got back from this year’s HutzMiZe (“Besides This”) Indy music festival, held in kibbutz Faroud. Despite the venue’s Elysian atmosphere, perched above Bedouin vineyards and the crumbing ruins of Syrian farmsteads, and a lineup stacked with some big names (i.e. Avi Fortis,) the festival came up short of meeting my expectations. First off, the majority of the acts (and stage-hours) were limited to radio-ready rock, hardcore and reggae. The real vanguard bands were forced to make do with five-song sets and sub-prime slots (who’s ready to power-skank at 11AM?) Though the food and services were a pleasant surprise, the audience was somnolent at best and someone had let in a battalion of cops to rummage through everyone’s knapsacks and fanny-packs.
Nevertheless, the truly reasonable ticket price of 100NIS (for both days) kept me from getting belligerent, and my patience was rewarded by two knock-out performances on day two. Around mid-morning, I was roused from my copy of The Economist by someone with a singing voice who wasn’t afraid to abuse it. Blasting along like a Le Tigre cover of Patti Smith, the young Israeli trio The Strawberry Jam was winning over hearts and minds with a stage show as fun, tweaked and frenetic as their lyrics. Moriel and Hadas took turns on drums and vocals while guitarist Carla tore the tweeters to bits. Of course, I had never heard of these guys till their show, which made it all the more embarrassing to go back to our tents (the band, I later discovered, were our neighbors at the campsite) and congratulate them on their set. Turns out punk-rock isn’t dead, it’s just been hiding in Tel Aviv.
Following the girls were some less-than-notables, and finally my personal favorite took the stage. Asaf Avidan is a quickly rising star on the Israeli folk-rock scene, though his cosmopolitan sound and perfect stage presence (read: down-home accent) could conceivably catapult him to worldwide fame. [I understand he’s played quite a bit oversees, but haven’t verified this yet..] Avidan performed in duet with The Mojos’ cellist Hadas Kleinman, crooning on a set of pipes so powerful and injured that Avidan is perpetually likened to the late-great Janis Joplin. With a set list somewhat more raw and folksy than expected, the two worked flawlessly and poignantly to create a piercing, aching musical time-warp. The guitar work was soulful and uncluttered, the cello solos resplendent. Even the harmonies seemed pure and familiar. I’m sure I’ll be seeing them again soon.