Lebanon’s International Festivals might be damaging the Lebanese Metal Scene
Apr 28th 2014 Patrick Saad What do you think?

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There has been much debate lately to what has been slowing down the Lebanese Metal scene – musicians and fans alike are complaining that there has been a lack of local events and a general lack of interest in Metal music in Lebanon (well at least since a couple of years now).

One compelling argument states that the increase of big international Metal bands appearances in Lebanon are damaging the scene which was once held together by small pub events throughout the year (at pubs like Nova, etc) with a handful of big events (Summer Fusion, Tribute Hall, any event at Tantra).

Lebanese Crowd (1)

“Well that’s what we’ve always wanted!”, said Metalheads who dreamed about watching their favorite Metal bands in their home country instead of having to travel elsewhere to watch them. While this is emotionally legit, it has an economical downside: the average Lebanese Metalhead does not make enough money to watch his favorite international bands AND attend all the local events at the same time.

Lebanese Crowd (2)

These international bands who haven’t played in Lebanon before are able to raise their ticket prices, because the local audience is dying to see them, therefore the ticket prices would be expensive without anyone complaining about it. Expensive meaning a minimum of 40$ which can escalate to 90$ and more for “special VIP and golden circle tickets”. So the average Metalhead has to attend these international events (multiple events each Summer) and pay high prices (along with the transportation fees to get to the locations, which are usually far apart – Byblos, Baalbeck, Beirut, etc), and be able to keep up with the local scene’s events all at the same time? That’s probably impossible to accomplish. This problem is also present elsewhere in the world, but the main difference is the actual base number of Metal fans in Lebanon is too small, therefore nonattendance of some = event failure.

International Festivals are slowing down the local Metal scene, at least during the Summer time, but there is no excuse to why the scene has been slow throughout the year. In my humble opinion as member of the local Metal press and as a musician, the scene is experiencing a transition which requires new generations to take part in the scene. Metal music worldwide also needs some kind of new revival to launch our local revival (remember the Thrash Metal revival in 2007), but since there’s no major international revival in Metal music today, it’s normal that our small scene is experiencing some problems finding itself.

P.S: we love how International Festivals in Lebanon are focusing on bringing at least one Rock / Metal act per year. To them it’s good business, and we don’t mind that!

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  • Sammy Serhan

    The Lebanese Metal scene is dying because it scarcely had anything original to offer to its audiences. It’s stuck in the 90’s in both form and concept. A lot is happening internationally in the world of Metal: Most important of which is the consistent blurring of the lines that separate genres. The creatively crippling categories we once eagerly subscribed to are being massively challenged with bands incorporating elements of shoegaze, post-rock, electronica, ambient, etc. into their visions. Hopefully the dwindling crowds are an indication of a new generation growing conscious of the possibilities outside the scope of the musical dinosaurs that dominate the scene.

  • I do agree with that, it’s not easy “fixing a scene”, it’s impossible to force people into changing their musical likings, they do not feel stuck, although that may be the case. To be honest, I wanted to address the International Festivals effect on the scene, analyzing the scene itself requires more than a single article and needs several people to weigh in their own inputs and points of views to the issue …

    It is true though, we only had a Metal scene, but now since we have these other musical influences finding their way to musicians who do not want to play Metal music only, we feel like the “scene” is dead …

    Will tackle the issue from the “productivity” factor in another article (releasing albums, fresh material, recording, etc)…

  • Sarah F

    I really don’t think its about originality or the blurring of lines between genres. No matter what there will always be metal music, even if it has new bizarre elements to it. I don’t think any metal fan only subscribes to one category. And regardless of expanding musical taste metal will always have fans. Attributing variation for absence of a metal scene is illogical, because following your train of thought, the metal scene should have been thriving back when other genres didn’t exist. Which isn’t the case. There is something fundamentally off about the lebanese metal scene and I’d attribute it’s delay to Lebanese culture, or middle eastern culture in general.

  • Sammy Serhan

    Most of what you said doesn’t negate what I was trying to say. Also I never attributed variation to absence, quite the opposite. Because in all the phases or apparent “variations” the Lebanese Metal scene went through, be it Doom, Thrash, Post-hardcore, etc. all these phases had one common attribute and it is that they were all borrowed. Borrowed not in terms of sound alone, but also form and attitude. We rarely had the opportunity to create our own identity as the people fed on the leftovers of Western subculture. Metal will remain, and I, for one, am rooting for it. But Metal is a direct response to popular culture and therefore must evolve with it or it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant and unnecessary.

    Anyway, I think we’ve deviated enough from Patrick’s intended purpose of this article. I can’t comment much about International Festivals’ effects on an underground culture. I think there needs to be a technological shift as much as a musical one.