06.23.03...So Many Shows, So Little Time
Wow, I am so behind on this here "blog" now. Finally, after my fourth show in as many days, I'm sitting down to write. Tough to decide where to begin...so maybe I'll start with last night and go backwards. Know, of course, that these entries only scratch the surface of all the bands I'm seeing and people I'm meeting. One of the great things about going to these shows has been that each one was at a different venue, so I think I've now been to all the venues that hold independent shows in Tel Aviv. One kid even said to me, "Now you've seen all the punk bands in Israel!"
Last night was the show that people have been talking to me about since I got here. The headliner was "Chaos Rabak," the biggest street punk band in Israel. These are what people call the "real" punks, if only because they look the most like the postcard punks from 1977. Indeed, there were so many mohawks there that I had to watch my eyes lest someone turned around too quickly. Imagine the street in front of the venue (Maccabi Music Factory), crowded with kids sporting mohawks, dyed hair, piercings, studded jackets and everything. Suddenly, a car pulls up and three religious guys get out, with their beards, long sideburns, and kippot on their heads. I think, "Uh oh, these guys are in trouble," but next thing I know one of the punk guys runs out and embraces one of the religious dudes. Turns out, they are brothers, and one of them is in Chaos Rabak. The religious brother came to see his punk brother perform. Now that is Israel. Finally, a great moment that I actually got on camera. Anyway, it was really a good show. Chaos Rabak lived up to their reputation. I'm going to try to interview them later this week.
The night before was quite a different show, but still many of the familiar faces were there. It was a benefit show, where you could bring donated food to get in instead of paying. In the entrance alley there were stands for different charity and activist organizations, all run by punks--Food Not Bombs and Animal Rights organizations. Punks always have such a bad reputation, but internationally punks are often associated with activism and positive social change. If only people understood...maybe someone should make a movie about it ;)
It was an all-night show, at a club called the Asylum, which is run by an older punk guy in a popular band and two partners. Apparently, anyone who wanted to could play the show and oh, they did! I got home around 5 A.M. I got some footage of many of the bands I've talked to so far. Va'adat Kishut (the girl hardcore band) blew me away. Their stage presence made them stand out. Gutzy's band played, and so did another political band called 'Nikmat Olalim,' who I interviewed at the show on Friday. The guys in this band are all 18 and therefore facing military service, but as far as I understand, none of them are going. They were able to convince the military psychiatrist that they are insane. I hear this same story from many of the punks here, and it's hard for me to understand how the army can mark so many young men as lunatics. One of the guys in the band had this to say: "It's pretty easy. If you don't want to be in the army, they think you're crazy."
On Saturday night I went to a show at a club called the Patifone,meaning Turntable in English. This place was really cool. It's run by one of Israel's only independent record labels, Fastmusic. As far as I understand, it may be the only label here which puts out anything punk-related. They own the club and a small recording studio, and all the bands on the label work at the club as part of their agreement for being signed. One of the women singers on the label, Michal Kahan, who was bartending that night, compared it to a Kibbutz. The actual club was so small. I think the maximum capacity is about 120. The floor in front of the stage is about the size of a standard American living room, and it had that kind of intimacy too.The first band that played is called "The Disposables," 15-year-old noise rockers. They had so much raw energy, it was great. I think Sonic Youth would be proud. The headlining band was called "Punkache," and we had a fantastic interview after the show. Punkache is a really goofy pop-punk band who sings in Hebrew. Strangely enough, that makes them unique in the punk scene here, but it gives them crossover appeal to Israelis outside the punk scene. Also unique in the scene, two of the three band members serve in the Army. They make an interesting contrast to some of the other bands I've met here. Plus, they were so funny that I actually laughed out loud during the interview. Damn! More editing nightmares...
So after going to all these shows I have even more food for thought. With about 2 weeks remaining on this journey, I now need to figure out what footage remians to be gotten to make a "completle" story out of this jumble.