A very lucky crowd saw both Black Lips and Lazzy Lung take the stage at Cairo Jazz Club on Tuesday night. The bands were performing as part of a Middle East “super tour” that will resume in Dubai and Beirut. After playing the Sakia Culture Wheel on Friday, they geared up to take the stage at the popular club, which one member said, “looks more suited to a rock concert.”
Black Lips had never played Egypt before but said that the reception had been positive at all the venues, including Alexandria (where they noted the presence of a vibrant skateboarding scene). The American band originally formed when founding members Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley were in high school in Georgia, in 1999.
The band’s southern-flavoured music is self-described as “garage punk,” but Alexander and 2004 recruit Ian Saint Pé say that they are inspired by everything from sixties rock to blues to punk. “Our musical influences include everything from the [Rolling] Stones to the Spits and Halim El Dabh,” they said.
The band has an international outlook and wants to perform in as many places as possible. “Including Egypt, we have now performed on six continents and we know that not many bands have toured the region, so we are glad to be trail blazers. We also absorb from the culture and we like Om Kalthoum a lot. Maybe we will use her music as a loop in the future,” the band said with a laugh.
Their set was very well received by the crowd at Cairo Jazz, who may have gotten a little bit too rowdy towards the end, staying true to punk standards. The band sounded great but some of the subtleties of their music got lost in the venue’s acoustics and sometimes instrument separation was a lost cause. But the music was still excellent and the place was packed so full there were frequent requests from the club to move the eager audience a bit further back.
Lazzy Lung, a Lebanese/Canadian band based in Beirut, were equally well-received. The entire band is Lebanese with the exception of lead singer Allan C and they describe their music as alternative rock. They have released an album entitled Strange Places while a second one, Sailors’ Delight, is on the way. The concept behind the second album is that everyone in Beirut is waiting for the weekend, “and sailors, actually the working class in general, wait for the weekend to escape. The album is more upbeat than our previous one which was more in tune with a young person exploring issues of identity and finding themselves,” said Allan.
On the influence Beirut has as a city on the band and their music, the band said they do not specifically try to bridge cultures or fuse different traditions. “We all have different musical tastes and the city may or may not have had an effect on our music. We do not make it a point to incorporate local or Lebanese music though we like and respect it.”
The band originally started as an instrumental band but Allan said that it evolved as he discovered he “wanted to tell stories,” which is partly where the name came from. “The extra ‘z’ is there for aesthetics, it makes people ask, creates a bit of controversy,” Allan laughed.
Both bands are moving on to the next stops on their tour but both said they want to come back to Egypt and perform again: “We would like to come back, if we are invited back, that is,” said Saint Pé, being far too modest.