Elements festival in Dubai

Cartoons, rappers and cars: it’s all go at next week’s Elements concert thanks to appearances by Gorillaz and T-Pain

Music feature
Music feature

Music and cars are inextricably linked in most people’s minds. When do you tune in to the radio? Chances are it’s when you’re in your car. And while iPods let us listen to music wherever we like, only the most flamboyant of us would belt out ‘Born to be Wild’ while ambling through The Dubai Mall – not a problem when you’re cocooned in your car.

So it makes sense that this year’s Royal Drive, which sees the city’s flashiest cars taking a trek from Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit to JBR Walk on March 19, should end with a full-scale music gig from some world-class talent. And while the fancy cars will be on display on The Walk on March 20, we’re really interested in the gig the night before. Here’s why.

Gorillaz Sound System

Gorillaz are playing Dubai! Well, kind of. You see, the anarchic trip-pop quintet only exist as a quirky cartoon mask for renowned Brit musician Damon Albarn. And it looks like he won’t be making it out to the UAE
for the gig, which will instead be running under the ‘Gorillaz Sound System’ moniker. That means there won’t be any live vocal performances on the night.

Instead, a full set of Gorillaz hits old and new – including, we’ll bet, at least one track from new album Plastic Beach – will be played to the crowds, with specially created Gorillaz videos up on a screen for all to see. There will probably be a few human musicians, too, to add a live flavour to the proceedings.

Hang on, you may think, what’s the point of going if Damon Albarn’s not there? Well, we’d counter, if he was there he’d only be stood behind a screen pretending to be a cartoon anyway. You’re there to watch Gorillaz and they’re a bunch of animated characters, so this is about as real as their ‘live gigs’ can get. Besides, we’ve seen footage of previous Gorillaz Sound System gigs and they look insane.


If you’re determined to see an actual human being on stage (you old-fashioned fuddy-duddy), you’ll also be able to look forward to a performance by Tennessee rapper T-Pain. Ironically, while Gorillaz are synthetic characters with real voices, T-Pain is a real character with a synthetic voice. His pioneering work with voice-altering computer program Auto Tune sparked something of a revolution in hip-hop and R&B music. Yes, those now overused robo-voices you hear everywhere are his fault, to the point that P Diddy actually paid royalties to T-Pain after using Auto-Tune.

But hey, the man’s got plenty more strings to his bow, including his charismatic live shows, which is exactly what we’re looking forward to this time around – that and seeing how tracks such as ‘I’m in Love (With a Stripper)’ and ‘Buy U a Drank’ will go down over here.

Tickets for Elements on March 19 start at Dhs400. For info, see www.timeouttickets.com.

One for the road

Suggested songs for Royal Drive’s participants as they cruise into Dubai.

Music for…

…racing down the highway
Kansas: ‘Carry on Wayward Son’
We’re not being ironic – the pounding beat, screamingly ’70s guitar riffs and bellow-along chorus make it essential for long journeys.

…being stuck in traffic
Gorillaz: ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’
We’re not massive fans of the first Gorillaz album, but this track is chilled trip-hop genius, perfect for keeping a cool temper in warm temperatures (which are pretty much guaranteed by mid-March). The track will also get you warmed up for the band’s Elements gig.

Johann Strauss II: ‘The Blue Danube’
The elegant, stirring stings of ‘The Blue Danube’ will ensure you remain cool, calm and relaxed while showing off your manoeuvring skills, gliding elegantly to a stop between two ridiculously big 4x4s. Hey, it worked in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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