Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Live Review: IndiRegev @ Ozenbar, Tel Aviv [15th October 2015]

Ha Pussy Shel Lucy
Sagol 59

Skarate Kid

Oh, Ozenbar! It's been a while. It's certainly been a while since any show vaguely punk related has happened here and tonight sees a show headlined by one of Israel's most legendary punk bands, despite having a name that implies it's purely reggae. It is actually an interestingly mixed bill tonight, with the crowd also being a mixture of street punks and reggae lovers.


Starting tonight's proceedings off is On Shoulders Of Giants, more commonly known now as OSOG. I've been aware of the band and even know guitarist Shmida (HaPussy Shel Lucy) for quite some time but I still hadn't seen them. I checked out some acoustic videos online and didn't really know what to make of it.
   Live on stage, OSOG perform as a seven piece, including a fiddler, a ukelele player and someone doing the ol' slide guitar. I suddenly realise that they are not the ska band someone had once described them to me as being. Throughout their set, the gang play a mixture of blues, country and folk which still manage to get some punks in the room having a boogie.
  Personally, with the exception of the well crafted political number Government Is Organised Crime, it's all a bit "text book". Seeing as it's blues and country, they're of course sticking to the structure, meaning 8 bar blues, classic chord progressions etc.. Some songs even sound familiar. Keep Calm (He's Dead) is practically Johnny B Goode with different lyrics and Wake Up In A Jacuzzi takes its hook from the Everly Brothers hit Wake Up Little Susie.
  As old fashioned as their style of music is, all seven of them manage to have a great deal of fun on stage.  It could be said that they look like a pretty hipster folk band, but they somehow manage to add a bit of punk energy to the whole performance. Front man, Avital, seems to be a very natural leader and has a perfectly hairy presence.
   OSOG's songs, despite being a tad unoriginal at times, are still undeniably catchy and they certainly make some great bar music. I just imagine that even to dedicated country/blues fans this is going to seem like nothing and maybe even a bit gimmicky. Do they really need that many people?

Skarate Kid 

   I have been meaning to review this band for a while. Skarate Kid are a new name in ska. Actual ska. Not ska punk, but 2-Tone influenced ska. And reggae. They just happen to include a few members of punk bands, including Itay (saxophone) and Gofen (bass) of HaPussy Shel Lucy and Doh Doh (guitar) of Mad Choice/Beer7.
    The name already makes you smile, but seeing Itay arrive on stage in a "Karategi" is what really makes them special. The band's style of ska and reggae is something that this country, especially in this scene, hasn't really seen for a while. Their shows so far have already managed to get in a good crowd, but tonight they do the Ozenbar proud by getting a good amount of people into the main area to check them out and have a bit of a dance.
   The band have well crafted songs, taking influence from some of the darker sides of bands like The Specials and The English Beat as well the more reggae side of bands like The Clash. In the same way as old school 2-Tone, a number of their songs have political or at least socially aware context but there is generally an aura of positivity and good vibes. That comes through in the performances too, especially as Itay bounces about on stage and gets the crowd riled up at every opportunity. As great as the rest of the band are, Tal (guitar/lead vocals), Doh Doh, Gofen and Liri (drums) are unfortunately upstaged by Itay. They all get into the spirit of things, dancing about on stage and joining in on vocals, but in comparison, they all seem just a little too chilled and reserved. However, the music is generally laid back, so Itay's antics sometimes seem a little out of place yet undeniably entertaining.
   While watching Skarate Kid, especially tonight with Itay kitted out and Gofen dressed up a little bit, the band (in a similar way to OSOG) come off just a tad gimmicky. As well as playing saxophone, Itay does dancehall-style toasting and does it in a fairly strong Jamaican accent, using Jamaican colloquialisms. There's nothing wrong with dressing up and incorporating things into a stage performance to create a persona, but when you're essentially a serious band, putting on an accent can seem a little fake. Some people in this PC world of ours could describe Itay (a candidate for Hipster or Hasid) as almost mocking Jamaican toasting by putting it on in such a way. However, one could also say that the Israeli and Afro-Caribbean accents are not too different and that it's something that comes naturally to him, like with Matisyahu. They are playing reggae, after all. Either way, when he takes lead vocals on Sleng Leng, it's clear to see he's a born performer and the place goes crazy. Fake accent or not, man dem ga skillz.
  Skarate Kid are definitely a band worth seeing if you have any interest in reggae, ska or even dancehall and I'm looking forward to a full record soon.

Sagol 59

   I turned up tonight not having a clue about Sagol 59. I assumed it was a band. I was therefore a bit surprised to see a DJ and a rapper on stage. Not one to shy away from a mixed bill, I got myself a space near the stage to try and soak in the performance.
  Israeli rap and hip hop is still a bit of a new territory to me, really only relating to acts like Shabak Samech and Peled who have a punk/alternative music connection to them. While watching Sagol 59 tonight, his style doesn't really do anything for me. It sounds like bedroom rappers; just the same sort of unimaginative flow throughout. Lyrically, from what I could make out (as I still have problems following Hebrew lyrics live), he has some good content, although he tends to overuse name dropping, especially in his freestyle, which comes across as a bit lazy and a ploy to gain some credibility. He evens name drops local punk band member friends of his. Although I did initially find that kind of cool to her names of people I personally know, it started to come across like slipping names into every other line is what he does.
  Dj Popalova is on the decks, or technically the laptop and one turntable. His transitions, where there are some, ware pretty good but I'm not entirely sure what he's doing with the turntable. There is no outstanding scratching or interesting use of samples, only a scratch here and there which isn't too impressive. It sort of reminds me of the guy from Sleaford Mods who just presses play and then stands around bobbing his head and drinking a pint. The backing music in general sounds a little outdated, but Sagol has apparently been around for a while, so the tracks themselves might be from a while back.
  Main highlight tonight is the guest rapper they get to come up (name?). He has a more interesting flow than Sagol 59, with changing patterns and a tougher, more convincing delivery. It also wasn't until he took the stage that people in the crowd start cheering and going "Ohhh" in between lines.
   It was nice to get a little hip hop into tonight's show but, personally, it wasn't the best performance I'd ever seen.

City Rats

City Rats, eh? I'm not going to say much I haven't already said about City Rats in previous reviews. I start to love them more and more every time I see them. They're pure street punks but some of songs are hardcore to the bone, especially ever since they got Not On Tour's Gutzy on the drumming throne. I still stand fixated as he crosses his arms playing both the hi hat and floor tom at the same time.on the track 2012.
   The crowd goes crazy as the guys smash through their set. You definitely don't need to be drunk to enjoy City Rats, but it does seem to be the protocol, as people of all ages fall over each other while these Russian-Israelis sing about life as they know it and, most importantly, beer and partying.

HaPussy Shel Lucy

  Having seen this band about twice before, I've always enjoyed them but still never properly fell in love with them. HaPussy Shel Lucy also seem to have gone from being a very important band in the Israeli punk scene to more of a band just for diehards. Unless more people are going to their shows in other cities, the turn out tonight, compared to the almost full Barby show I once saw them at, is pretty small.
  I unfortunately missed the very beginning of the guys' set, but entered to the sight of people already running around and pointing in the air. Although the band still plays punk rock, there's a hint more of a ska punk feel on the later stuff due to the band's inclusion of Itay on saxophone two years ago. Sometimes, it even goes into Dog Eat Dog territory, which, for me, is awesome!
  There's a lot of crowd participation on big hits such as Vodka Redbull, Batlan (trans. slacker/bum) and Haruach Peudalit (unsure of the best translation for this). A friend of mine even leaves the show with his shirt completely ripped front and back. I'm not entirely sure what was going on to result in such destruction but whatever it was, it didn't seem to phase him or anyone else.
  As great as the band's classic songs are, a personal highlight for me was fairly new song Sum Chadash (A New Drug?) which they play as a sort of encore at the very end of the set. It's a blend of punk rock and ska moments which bring to mind some of the heavier material by The Urge, an absolute favourite of mine.
  If HaPussy Shel Lucy didn't bring a sax player into the mix, I am not too sure how I would feel about them. This addition gives something new to the Israeli punk scene and has almost helped the band reinvent themselves. I'm definitely looking forward to the new album.

(If anyone has any HaPussy Shel Lucy pics, please send them my way.)

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