walls come tumbling down
Israel Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
April 13th, 2008 – by: tahoemud93
I step in, then crouch on a floor cushion. â€śYou want?â€ť Alisa asks, handing me the an offer of a Tequila shot with lime. Eliah, another Russian friend, older, closer to my age, relaxing against the wall, asks me about my arrival, my plans. I sit back on the heels of my Chuck Taylor sneakers and appreciate how attractive both Alisa and Lydia appear tonight. Theyâ€™re both beautiful, but in no way obnoxious or caught up in it - or perhaps they donâ€™t even realize how sweet-natured and cute they are. I suppose itâ€™s that combination of independence and humor, that underlying soulfulness, that sets them apart for me, too.
We catch a ride into town with Eliah and I see the Crusader walls of the old city lit up, looming, casting a spell (at least this time, this first glimpse after 12 years) on my passenger seat gazing.
The performance space, Dalia, is not ready: the musicians tuning, testing the sound system. We meet another Russian friend and kill the time with some store-bought beers, a walk through the alleys and parks nearby. At least half a dozen friends, acquaintances, have greeted my hipster neighbors: they seem to have a few key areas of the downtown scene laid out for weekend rendezvous, pub crawls.
The Dalia at last opens up - a mix of post-punk (retro 1979-1982 London look) teenagers and Uni-students linger outside and smoke, check text messages. We move in to the intimate space - a stage, a cement floor, an upstairs loft, and get a drink, relax.
First band: all hardcore, all the time; all Israeli. Actually extremely talented, too - dime-perfect stops, starts: pulverizing breaks, crunchy Gibson SG power chords (Black Sabbath meets Black Flag). Too bad the lead singerâ€™s non-stop screaming vocal gets monotonous real fast.
Band Two takes on the White Stripes motif: Drums and bass, nothing else. Theyâ€™re not quite hardcore, a little slower, but still finding a raw edge.
Earlier Iâ€™d noticed a woman of perhaps twenty, leaning on the loftâ€™s railing, watching herself in the mirror, moving at an oddly sultry pace - as if she was already hearing some music that wasnâ€™t there. Iâ€™d noticed her candy apple red tights, her retro-skirt, her cheap bangles and Sixties-era chic, her fashion sense reminding me of someone I knew from high school.
Band Three begins while weâ€™re outside. From the first well-timed explosive downbeat I realize that thereâ€™s Really Something Going On Here. We head inside and I decide to get close to the stage. The guitarist has a tone completely unlike the other bands, something Hiwatt-ish, straight out of early Townshend. The female lead singer lunges, dives, hugs the mic between her breasts and begins a vocal delivery that literally freezes me to the spot. The lead singer? The same girl I was watching earlier upstairs - now deep into her first song. She sounds like a very young Patti Smith only so much more forceful, far more capable of hitting and holding outrageous Kurt-Cobain-like screams; and yet itâ€™s also the way she knows she can captivate the audience - that true performerâ€™s charisma - that also floors me. Unknown band, in an obscure, locals-only downtown Jerusalem performance space - and Iâ€™m beginning to get the first of several waves of goosebumps. Itâ€™s as if the best of Patti Smithâ€™s passion has been reawakened in a skinny Russian-Israeli punk-psychedelic poet. I realize, at some point, that she is capable of giving the audience the feeling that not only would she sing, scream, plow confidently into total chaos - but sheâ€™d possibly light her self on fire, if the situation demanded it.
Total fucking abandon.
It is the greatest live music experience since catching the late Joe Strummer of The Clash back in 1999. Iâ€™m intoxicated, infatuated, dumb-struck. Iâ€™m seeing a 90 pound twenty-year-old waif knock the walls down, throw herself into the pogo-ing crowd, grab her crotch, roar like Patti on steroids, slither on the ground, mock, plead, and find that elusive rock and roll communal moment. Itâ€™s fucking Unbelievable.
* * * * *
We wait for the bus back, Evgeni and Lydia sitting together at the stop. Lydia humming to herself next to me, her hair in a kind of Bjork-double-bun thing, her stonerâ€™s buzz still lingering in her smile. â€śChahhhk,â€ť Evgeni says, slowly, â€śThis was a good night!â€ť
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