Rock The Doctor - Event Review
Label: SledgeHammer Productions
Reviewer: Carmina Khairallah - 2016-11-14
On Thursday, November 3rd, local “Shock Rock” band In Sanity Q came back from their recent silence with Rock the Doctor, a theatrical Rock show at the PlayRoom in Nahr el Mot, which was put together by Sledgehammer Productions. From their successful, but vague promotional campaigns that included posters void of the word “concert”, to hosting their gig in a venue usually dedicated to comedy nights, it’s certain that the band did not take the conventional route. Let’s see how that went for them.
People started pouring into the venue around 9 P.M. and were greeted by playback Rock music. The venue was comfortable and welcoming, although there were very limited seated spaces that required prior reservation. By the time the show started at 10 P.M., a good amount of attendees had gathered up in front of the stage.
The first band to grace the stage was Generation Gap, a local Rock act. They consist of Jovan Jabbour on vocals, Alex Nassif on guitar, Ghida el Baba on bass, and William Boufakhreddine on drums. Their playlist went as follows:
Another Brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Sedated - Generation Gap
Way Down We Go - Heartshaped Box - Kaleo + Nirvana
Mad World - Gary Jules
Sweet Dreams - Marilyn Manson
Their performance was overall pleasant, despite the fact that the crowd was unresponsive throughout most of it. Each member played their musical role well, with particular emphasis on the vocals which showed an interesting variation in ranges between tracks. The sound was alright, but too bassy, particularly towards the middle of this act. Each member’s individual stage presence was also good but it sometimes lacked coherence. For example, the bassist kept pacing on and off the stage and often almost collided with her fellow band members.
The lack of coherence was also visible in the choice of songs. The variation in genres and moods between different tracks (and sometimes within one track, as was mostly the case with “Mad World”) was just too abrupt, which jeopardized the overall smoothness of the performance. A huge positive point, though, is that the band was adapting each cover to their own style(s) rather than plainly copying the original.
As a final note, there was a screen behind the band showing random “psychedelic” visuals consisting of colorful dots and lines. Those were needlessly distracting and didn’t add anything to the show, yet offered a striking resemblance to the visuals shown on Windows XP’s media player.
When asked to comment about the event, band’s bassist Ghida el Baba had to say: “(…) All in all everything was well planned from the start. (…) The sound technicians told us how to use the equipment, it was amazing that the guitars and bass had wireless connections, the stage was probably one of the biggest we played on, the equipment used such as the amps were premium. (…) Other than that, a very important thing is that the crowd watching is interested purely in Rock music, and they knew the songs and what we were playing, which is rare to find at other events.
After a short break it was time for the main act: In Sanity Q, with Chris Khatchadourian on lead vocals, Johnny Maalouly on bass, Dany Al Achy on lead guitar, Tony Al Achy on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, and Ramsey Khattar on drums. Their all-original playlist went as follows:
The Sleeping Man
The Way I Am
God Damn Rock ‘n’ Roll
Clown of the Town
Impulse and Games
Last Man Standing Upside Down
Revenge of the Pope
Cigarettes Are Burning
Doctor of the Family
Burial of a Happy Man
People Are Going
She Wants My Sex
The show proved to be different than what the Rock scene is used to as soon as it started: after the musicians had set up, actor Assem Bazzi went on stage, performed a poem with a bottle of Ballantine’s whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in the other, then sat down while the music started. The vocalist, with makeup including the band’s logo all over his face, choked him with a tie before starting to sing. This set the tone for most tracks during the show, as Assem was joined by fellow actresses Nicole Obeid and Joyce Abou Jaoude in antics that went anywhere from doctoring to clowning and even taxi driving, in accordance with the lyrics and mood of each song.
The music, vocals, and overall performance of the band were on point all throughout. It’s not to say that the show was flawless, but the band knew how to dress up the flaws. For example, microphone feedback quickly turned into a running joke when, instead of not addressing it, the vocalist purposely brushed the mic against the amps, or kept moving to different parts of the stage and repeating his sentence until it worked. I also found it impressive how well the band took advantage of each part of the venue. For example, a balcony overlooking the stage became, depending on the song, a podium for a politician, or the platform from which a sultry dancer went down her pole. The vocalist also did his fair share of walking around the audience at some points, startling a few attendees in the process as he’d come out of nowhere.
As for the visuals on the screen behind the band, they started off as the aforementioned lines and dots, but soon shifted to carefully crafted images ranging anywhere from an RGB creepy clown superimposed over footage of a busy city, to semi-naked girls moving around blurrily.
Overall, the show was fine tuned to the minutest detail and was very enjoyable. A concert shouldn’t only consist of good music, but should allow for an overall good time, and In Sanity Q nailed that down admirably. Actually, if I were to rid myself of my obligatory reviewer objectiveness, I’d admit that I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun, that I was jumping around like an overly hormonal 13 year old watching her favorite boyband live throughout most of it, and that I couldn’t understand how passive most of the crowd was. I’d also admit that this show has raised my overall concert standards drastically.
Regarding the event, Maggie Varbedian of Sledgehammer Productions had to say: “In Sanity Q is an amazingly talented band; I believe they have what it takes to make it. Generation Gap is also very talented, granted they are beginners but I think they’ll get quite far. I was very enthusiastic to put this show together with In Sanity Q’s talent. We at Sledgehammer Productions wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary and the show turned out to be professional, exciting and amazingly fun.”
So, thank you to PlayRoom, Sledgehammer Productions, Generation Gap and In Sanity Q for the show. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and hope to hear more from you soon.
Review by: Carmina Khairallah
Edited by : Muhamamd Jaber
Event by : SledgeHammer Productions