Beirut indie-scene invades UAE with four bands playing in Dubai this weekend

Rejoice as the UAE enjoys a Lebanese indie invasion - with four hip Beirut bands playing in a single weekend.

Zeid and the Wings are playing at the And Lounge in The Address Dubai Marina on Friday, August 28. Courtesy Zeid and the Wings
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The UAE is in the midst of an invasion – by Lebanese indie musicians. This weekend alone, four hip Beirut artists will take to the stage in Dubai.

On Thursday, August 27, electro-rockers Who Killed Bruce Lee will perform at McGettigan’s JLT, joined on the bill by ambient guitar maestro Gurumiran.

Then on Friday, August 28, Zeid and the Wings – a project from Zeid Hamdan, of Soapkills fame – and experimentalist collective Loopstache will play together at nearby And Lounge.

Each of these acts is a genuinely interesting, engaging, distinctive musical force well worthy of any serious music lover’s time and ­attention.

In other words, all four acts rock. Suddenly, in a place where one gets sick of being told how few original, underground gigs are being hosted, our musical cups are overflowing with audio goodies.

It’s like paradise ... on the buses. Paradise because we have so much music to enjoy. And buses because they’ve all come along together after a long wait.

Fortunately, this weekend is just the start of a mounting, sustained wave.

Friday’s gig is the work of trendy new gig series The Other Side, which can take most of the credit for this new-found wealth of interesting sounds. The fortnightly concept launched only four weeks ago with a packed-out gig from one of the region’s very biggest bands, blues-rock sensations The Wanton Bishops, who stopped by midway through their European tour.

Two weeks ago it hosted kooky indie-folk duo Safar, also from Beirut. Both events attracted crowds of more than 400.

“We’ve been really blessed by the reaction,” says Dania Ismail, co-founder of The Other Side. “We get so many messages from people saying: ‘Thank you for bringing live music here.’”

Moving beyond Lebanon’s borders, on September 11 the night will host Jordanian electronica outfit Z The People and Egyptian underground creative Bosaina. The September 25 bill will be headlined by Jordanian singer-songwriter Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers.

“There are lots of really interesting sounds coming out of the region right now,” says Ismail, a Syrian national who was born and raised in the UAE. “But for them to be in Dubai is something different. People don’t know what to expect – it’s an intimate and intense experience.”

Here’s to more forward-thinking promoters taking a chance.

Must-see indie acts

As we gear up for the best weekend of regional indie in living UAE memory, here’s what you need to know about the acts:

Who Killed Bruce Lee

This painfully cool quartet blend an indie guitar aesthetic with dancefloor sensibilities, creating smart electro-rock which moves both the mind and body. Formed in 2010, the band made waves with 2012’s self-titled EP. Now work is underway on a crowd-founded long-player helmed by Nick Cave/Depeche Mode producer Victor Van Vugt. Straight from Dubai they kick off a European tour.

Gurumiran

The recently launched solo project of Miran Gurunian, the guitarist/producer/sound-conjurer behind excellent grunge-jazz outfit Pindoll. His engaging, atmospheric new solo record Aberrance takes leads from the electronic sounds of Berlin, and features a guest vocal from Bojan Preradovic, frontman of UAE metal sensations Empty Yard Experiment.

Live for Vibe Series at McGettigan's JLT & The Baggot, Bonnington Hotel Tower, Dubai, Thursday, August 27 from 8pm. Dh100.

Zeid and the Wings

Zeid Hamdan is a legend of the Lebanese alternative music scene, best known as one-half of Soapkills, the late-1990s Arabic trip-hop duo which set the template as one of the region’s first underground acts to break internationally. Since 2010 he has led Arab-language group Zeid and the Wings, a hauntingly lo-fi, dub-influenced electro-pop quintet.

Loopstache

Indie electro duo Loopstache are best known for their kooky Soundcloud covers of everyone from Avicii to The Beatles. Live the duo uses beats and loops (get it) alongside live synths, guitars, brass and vocals to build deep, party starting grooves. Expect tongues held firmly in cheeks.

Friday, August 28 from 9pm at And Lounge, The Address Marina Mall, Dubai. Dh75 advance from platinumlist.ae, Dh100 on the door.

rgarratt@thenational.ae