With all the ambiguous and weird graffiti on Bliss Street, from Snow White with an M16, to unknown URLs, one spray-painted figure stands out as the least-understood. The Owl sprayed over and around other graff arts never had an adjunct title or URL, and with Google Goggles turning up unsatisfactory search results, the Owl remained a mystery for months, until last night…
My dear friend Lea Schwenzner sent me a link via Facebook, and seconds later I was watching this:
Needless to say, I had freed myself post-midnight Saturday and was ready to explore this subculture I had overlooked for some reason, and one I am direly in need of after my beloved Basement was put on hiatus.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on the guys behind the Owl, Acousmatik System, so I’ll quote their blog which you can explore for yourself here.
Acousmatic System is a non-profit organization responsible for cultural exchange in music accompanied by various art forms.
We aim to expose local talents to the outside and vice versa. Our goals manifest through introducing electronic and experimental music production to the Lebanese audience and exposing alternative local art to both Lebanese and foreign scenes. We seek to establish connections in these circles to widen our fleet and defy the mainstream activities imposed by our rotting society. We target the underground scenes beyond borders, and intend to stay underground.
Now, they will forgive me for going above-ground with this, but as a zealous non-mainstream advocate myself, I have an obligation to let others know that these scenes exist, so they experience and join it themselves!
The man of the night was French DJ and producer Niveau Zero, whose live performances of Dubstep and Breakcore, heavily influenced by Metal and other heavier electronic genres, have taken the French electronic underground scene by storm for the past few years.
He creates and compiles his fast-paced, heart-pumping tracks live, with his dreadlocks whipping back and forth with the bass, his free hand pounding the air, his feet stomping away behind the decks, loop machines, laptops and synthesizers being utilized. The clubbers, do the same, with varying degrees and intensities, but all constant throughout the live set.
The Belgian X&Trick’s Neorave genre was the perfect follow-up to Niveau Zero’s set, with the Drum and Bass-style layout with a fairly fluid organization of to-and-fro ups-and-downs in the beautiful purely synthetic music.
The lineup featured a total of 10 artists, with 5 live acts including Niveau 0 and X&Trick, and 5 DJ sets. 2 VJs were also on-call, making sure the visual stimulation was up to the standards of the auditory one.
What was striking is the perfect harmony of elements of metal with a heavily electronic genre. There is no debating Dubstep’s electronic origin, but the attitude portrayed in the music is very similar to that of Rock’s Heavy Metal. The overpowering attitude of releasing whatever’s inside and the recklessness and carelessness that accompanies it is probably the appealing factor of the genre, at least for me, a scathing critic of Rock.
The creation of electronic sounds infused with the attitudes heavy electronic and heavy metal share, released this type of music from the tight constraints of traditional music (drums, guitars, etc.) and into the endless possibilities of the digital one.
The music, clubbers and performers were in fact a hybrid between electronic music connoisseurs, metal head-bangers and carefree Rastafarians, and all their derivatives. In essence, it was a dreadlocked-DJ who was able to transform what were traditionally mortal enemies, into a harmonious sub-culture of all music underground and non-mainstream.
What was enjoyable is that everyone was happy and friendly. There was no pushing, chest-pumping or the usual dick-measuring rituals we see in Lebanese clubs and events. If I wanted to pass through, the person in my way would let me pass, not pretend I don’t exist and when I try to pass, start a scuffle to impress his hired girlfriend.
The depression-like symptoms you’d normally see in a typical Lebanese club (probably due to being robbed by the management, hating the music, being harassed by the bouncers or the unpleasant fellow-clubbers) were non-existent. You could dance, jump, shout and pretty much everything else without being given condescending looks by people who really just yearn for a taste of that feeling of pure rapport with the music and room-full of clubbers.
The uplifting, yet underground, happy, yet subdued, meaningful, yet carefree atmosphere was a beautiful one that I genuinely enjoyed. It was a liberating night of actual raving, a much-needed one I might add. I saw a lot of old friends I haven’t seen for a while, and met some I only knew in cyberspace. Bottom-line is, when I went for my ritualistic after-party Freddy’s cheese and chips hotdog, I had a smile on my face, instead of whining to Freddy about the crappy party/management/people…