My Musical Experience in Israel (or lack thereof) Thus Far
It’s no surprise that war-ridden Israel is in a general state of disarray in the political sphere, but it came as both a shock and a disappointment to me that this spills over into its music scene. My musical experience in Israel so far has been limited to to say the least.
I arrived in Tel Aviv six weeks ago on a five-month internship program. One of the first things I did was attempt to look into upcoming shows in the area. Being that Tel Aviv is such a young and trendy city, comparable even to New York, I anticipated nothing less than an active and vibrant music scene. To my surprise, I struggled to find much information online regarding concerts or music festivals. I later learned that this is a direct result of anti-Israeli activism.
I was lucky enough to make it to Israel just in time to catch the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first-ever appearance in the native country of deceased band member Hillel Slovak. 50,000 people showed up to a park in Tel Aviv for what was not only an incredible performance, but a slap in the face to anti-Israeli protestors who typically succeed in keeping most artists out of the country. In this case, despite a Facebook group titled “Red Hot Chili Peppers: Defy Injustice, Cancel Israel” and various threats, the band took the stage and killed it. Back in 2001, this was not the case; due to security concerns surrounding the second intifada, they were forced to cancel a scheduled show. This time around, not only did the show go on without a hitch, but the band risked aggression from protestors by touring the country and even visiting the Western Wall—the holiest place for the Jewish religion and thus a spot of heightened risk for terrorism.
However, not all artists are so inclined to disregard the threats. A couple of weeks ago I learned of an Afrojack concert from a friend. It was nowhere to be found online, as I’ve learned is typically the case with these things. However, despite attempts at keeping it under the radar, the activists seemingly won this round. It was announced last minute that Afrojack was “sick”; and by last minute, I literally mean at two in the morning, midway through the third opener’s set. That’s Israel for you. Anyway, I wasn’t all that upset by his absence, as I had been raging for hours to some sick DJs, including Matt Zo. I’ll let you have this one, Israel haters, just chill out and stop scaring the good ones away?! Pretty please?!?!
I later learned that the same thing happened just a couple of months ago when Nicky Romero was set to appear in Tel Aviv. Friends of mine apparently had gone all the way to the show just to discover last minute that he wasn’t showing up. Grow some balls, DJs. (JK, I wouldn’t really want to risk getting bombed either).
One who did manage to actually make it here was Steve Angello, a show that was successfully concealed with tickets available only through a promoter through word of mouth. I caught that this past weekend and wasn’t very impressed. He showed up two hours late, around 2 am, and didn’t seem all that pumped to be there. Moreover, a speaker seemingly blew out—either that or the club was equipped with a terrible sound system that left all of our ears bleeding for days to come.
Thus, I have learned the hard way that Tel Aviv is not the place for live, mainstream music and thus I plan to infiltrate the local music scene some more. Israel is famous for its “nature parties” which are essentially crazy beach/desert raves where the location isn’t disclosed until the day of the event to avoid police involvement. Hopefully I’ll get to one of those soon and have something more promising to report on the music front in the future. In the meantime, shalom y’all!