Monster bill of 10 bands gearing up for arts movement
It’s easy to miss the UAE’s underground music scene, yet beneath the headline-grabbing house DJs and omnipresent R&B mash-ups there’s a healthy artistic undercurrent. A thriving network of old-school musicians, many of them from South Asian countries, thrash away at guitars on small stages and in cramped studios. Now the scene is getting a healthy kick thanks to Reformed Absolutizm, a rockfest bringing together ten of Dubai’s local bands to play on Friday September 28, alongside a display of visual art. But first, what’s with the event name? ‘We wanted something profound,’ offers producer Cesar Diego. ‘We got two words, we mixed ’em up, it sounds good, so that’s it.’
The gig marks the first venture by Ring of Fire Productions, a new community of volunteers driven to promote local artists and musicians. All funds they raise will go towards projects such as creating an institution for artists. Co-producer Jane Odulio adds: ‘Reformed Absolutizm is a by-product of the burning desire to see people coming together for one purpose. It’s a change of mindset, believing that this generation deserves more than bare-minimum standards when it comes to art, music and literature.’ Let’s hope this is the first of many much-needed showcases of local talent. In the meantime though, let’s get to know the ten bands playing at The Music Room in Dubai event next week. We kept it simple: we’ve found what these guys listen to, what they sound like (in just five words) and where they got their name.
BrownFusion The name: ‘South-East Asians are naturally “brown” and our music is a fusion of rock, ska, funk and more.’ Influences: Bob Marley, Iron Maiden, Incubus, REM, Queensrÿche. In five words: ‘Groovy, melodic, positive, catchy, depicting.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘Mature enough to be unleashed.’ The best rock song ever: “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.’ www.facebook.com/brownfusion.
Bulletcells The name: ‘It comes from our guitarist’s old band, Bulletdays.’ Influences: Urbandub, Story of the Year, Love Me Butch, Funeral for a Friend. In five words: ‘Power, hard, rock, scream, loud.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘Surviving.’. The best rock song ever: ‘There are just too many to mention.’ www.facebook.com/bulletcells.
Fist in Your Face The name: ‘We were inspired by the album Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera.’ Influences: Sepultura, Machine Head, Pantera, Slayer, Metallica. In five words: ‘Loud, fast, groove, and breakdowns.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘At a “getting better” stage since 2004.’ The best rock song ever: ‘Ibigay Mo Baby’ by Willie Revillame. www.facebook.com/fistinyourfacedxb.
Phepsquad The name: ‘It sounds catchy and speaks of our music’s intent: upbeat, easy music.’ In five words: ‘Acoustic, pop’n’roll, upbeat, alternative… er, fresh?’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘There’s a lot of talent here. The problem is that these guys should be exposed more and should be given a chance to be heard by people.’ The best rock song ever: ‘Based on the requests written on napkins that we’ve received at most of our gigs, it’s unarguably “Hotel California” by The Eagles. But in our opinion it’s got to be “Purple Haze” – or any Jimi Hendrix song.’ No website yet.
Point Of View The name: ‘We wanted to come up with a name that echoed the message that our music conveys – that silence usually leads to exploitation, and a point of view is essential.’ Influences: Dream Theater, Tool, Stone Temple Pilots, Mr Big, Pink Floyd. In five words: ‘Strong, aggressive, melodious, raunchy, edgy.’ The rock scene in the UAE is… ‘Now heading from the ICU to the general ward.’ The best rock song ever: ‘“Death To All But Metal” by Steel Panther.’ www.pointofviewonline.net.
Primo The name: ‘Cousins Chris (guitar) and Arvin (bass) call themselves “primo” – a Spanish term for “male cousin” or a slang word for a friend.’ Influences: Megadeth, Metallica, Black Sabbath, The Beatles. In five words: ‘Old-school power riffs metal’. The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘A lively underground of expats.’ The best rock song ever: ‘“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses.’ www.facebook.com/pages/Primo/152106338159875.
Pullbox The name: ‘It’s from the metal covers that you see on sidewalks – they say “PULLBOX”. It’s heavy.’ Influences: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters. Five words: ‘Grunge, experimental, spontaneous, random, loud.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘On and off. It’s a seasonal thing for so many bands. There’s so many of us, we should be placed in one venue and play for a whole day, like Desert Rock.’ The best rock song ever: ‘“One” by Metallica.’ www.facebook.com/pullbox.
Sandwash The name: ‘Steroids of the Anabolic Nature Doing What Athletes Supposedly Hate. Or S.A.N.D.W.A.S.H. for short. We watched the Olympics and wondered whether anyone would have a telling episode of steroid use.’ Influences: Pavarotti. Steroids. Five words: ‘Like Luciano Pavarotti on steroids.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘Like bodybuilding in the ’80s. Reserved for people with mullets.’ The best rock song ever: They declined to answer. We’re not sure they understood the question… www.myspace.com/sandwash.
Tsinelaz The name: ‘From our feet. “Tsinelas” is Tagalog for slippers or flip flops.’ Five words: ‘Punk-rock-[extra topping]-cheeseburger’. The rock scene in the UAE is… ‘Like watching The Bold and the Beautiful in the early ’90s.’ The best rock song ever: ‘There’s this song we’ve heard from a local band called The Dirty Machines. They haven’t finished it yet, but we’re sure that it’s going to be awesome.’ Tsinelaz also play the Greenbelt Lounge, Astoria Hotel, on September 21. www.facebook.com/Tsinelaz.
Viscous Mishmash The name: ‘It came from somewhere in the middle of the sun.’ Influences: Red Hot Chili Peppers, P.O.T., Incubus. In five words: ‘Groovy, punky, cool beatnik music.’ The rock scene in the UAE is... ‘Blacksheep and Rock Nation’. The best rock song ever: ‘It would have to be “Aeroplane” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.’ www.facebook.com/viscous.mishmash. Reformed Absolutizm is on Friday September 28, 9pm-3am, Dhs50. The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (056 799 6355).