Thursday, November 26, 2009

French Zar

I'm branching out from typical Egyptian concerts. By going to non-Egyptian concerts. On Monday, I saw Karimouche, a French hip hop group, at The Culture Wheel. My French is limited to what I remember from 8th and 9th grade. Every time the lead singer/rapper said bonjour, zut, chat, chien, je suis reussi l'examine, and tout le monde, I totally knew what she saying.

hello, darn, cat, dog, i will pass the exam, all the time

At times, the keyboard player thought he was T-Rex.

Despite not understanding practically everything, I had a really fun time and enjoyed the music. The only drawback was that everyone in the audience was lame and sat in their chairs, too afraid to dance. There were chairs on the extreme left- and right-hand sides of the room and the middle was empty, presumably for people to shake it. No one was in the middle. Except for a stray cat that snuck in and sprawled out there for half of the concert.

Wednesday, I went to a place called Makan, or in English, Place. An inspired name for sure. The... place does have a nice atmosphere. It's a spacious room that's carpeted and has some cushions and wooden chairs to sit on. Every Wednesday night, an ensemble called Mazaher plays Zar music there. They gave us a hand-out describing Zar music as "a space where [women] can work out their tensions and frustrations which limit their movements, their dress, their voices and even their dreams." I'm all about freedom (I still got some Americana left in me) so I knew I was going to enjoy the concert.

From what we saw, Zar music was very trance-like. It was a lot of drumming and percussion and a flute guy. The basic format for a song: flute guy does flute solo, then the drumming kicks in, woman or man sings some verses, everyone else playing instruments sings as a chorus repeating or responding to the soloist, soloist sings more, chorus does their thing again, then everyone starts banging on drums as hard as they can and the person playing cymbals dances in a frenzy til everyone abruptly stops the music.

It makes more sense hearing and seeing it, so come visit to get a taste of the Zar. But til then, video!

video
This guy knows how to shake it. My favorite part of the concert.

video
The end to every single song they played. And I know the video is sideways.

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