Santa's Wishlist - Highway 69 + Havoc + Phenomy
Band: Santa's Wishlist
Author: Carmina Khairallah - 2015-01-12
On Friday, December 27th of 2014, a pub known as “The Back Door” and located in Mar Mikhayel (near Beirut, Lebanon), proved that it is becoming the newest home to our local Metal talents by being the venue of choice for an event featuring HAVOC, PHENOMY and HIGHWAY 69. The event, organized by HIGHWAY 69, presented the merit of being the first Metal concert in a long time to be organized by a band as well as HAVOC’s first gig since 2012 and PHENOMY’s first gig altogether, both excluding the Christmas Mission that took place a week earlier and saw each band perform three songs for charity.
The doors of the venue were supposed to open at 8 but expectantly that didn’t happen until around 9, with the concert commencing around an hour later. It’s worth noting, though, that by the time the first band got on stage, the venue was already relatively full, with an attendance varying widely between total newcomers and relative “veterans” who had been out of the scene for a considerable amount of time.
The first band up on stage were PHENOMY. This band was the fruit of 8 years of hard work between Loïc el Haddad and Rudy Bejjani, two Thrash Metal aficionados who set off to write their own material until finally finding Dany Arfan, Raymond Ghorayeb and Adel Hassan who turned this duo into a full blown band with a full album just waiting to be recorded. The band’s first noticeable particularity is their appearance: all band members are heavily cladded in black while their front man and vocalist, Adel Hasan, also sport gloves and a mask that even shields his eyes. The effect hits hard and leads the audience to be highly expectant of what will come next. Sadly, though, that part was affected by technical difficulties that mainly affected the vocals to instrumental ratio with the former being nearly inaudible. Otherwise, the instrumentals were very well orchestrated in an almost all original playlist garnished with "Seek and Destroy" by METALLICA. The band’s stage presence was highly interesting but could have benefited from a larger stage. The masked front man did however attempt to bypass that by climbing off the stage and joining the crowd a few times, which definitely added to the crowd’s already consequent excitement. Overall, it was a very enjoyable performance that could however use some fine tuning when it comes to on stage technicalities.
Next up after a short break was HAVOC, a Heavy Metal cover band whose last concert prior to this one had been in 2012. Since then, only vocalist Gerard Gulgulian and guitarist Boodi Ramadan remain from the band’s original lineup, who were then joined by Omar Itany on guitar, Omar el Zarif on bass and Steve Scorps on drums. The band performed a playlist fully comprised of covers mainly by iconic British Heavy Metal band IRON MAIDEN as well as songs by DIO, SCORPIONS and METALLICA. The sound was better by the time HAVOC got on stage and the vocals were perfectly distinguishable. It is worth noting that said vocals were also the strong point of the band’s performance, with Gerard Gulgulian hitting emotionally charged notes quite well in songs that were obviously dear to his heart. The instrumentals were also quite skilled but a few mistakes were to be noted, namely in the guitar. This did not however affect the band’s performance and stamina which were both relatively high. The crowd’s enthusiasm was there as fans were loudly singing along to their favorite classics, but the tone was definitely lower compared to the rest of the event as the songs were softer. It was however a delightful reunion and we do hope that HAVOC will feel the need to grace the stage once again very soon.
Last but not least were the band that made it all happen: HIGHWAY 69. This act also dates back to the early days of this decade but as well as with HAVOC, only two original members remain, namely Yervant Meguerditchian on guitar and Robert Bzdigian on bass guitar. They were recently joined by Nareg Tavitian on the drums and Vicken Avakian on vocals. To the band’s former “all SYSTEM OF A DOWN” playlist were added a few tracks by SCARS ON BROADWAY, but the band’s overall spirit remains the same. As they stated it themselves at the beginning of their performance, they “don’t need rehearsals nor sound checks”, and seem to not pay too much attention to performing the songs flawlessly. Instead, their focus lies on the general ambience on the show, which is head bang, bounce and even mosh pit inducing as this event made it seem. The crowd was thus evidently unfazed by the band’s technical mistakes as everyone belted the lyrics to the songs the loudest they could. The band played for over an hour, even repeating the song “Suite Pee” when asked for an encore and leaving everyone, including themselves, completely drained at about 1:30 AM.
Overall, this event was not one that could be deemed noteworthy on a performance scale, but rather as a gig that brings the scene a few years back, when the sound was never good but the venue was always full and everyone had such a good time that their necks and throats ached for days on end. It is worth noting that The Back Door was also be home to “New Year Mayhem” on the 10th of this month, an event organized by “Streaks” and featuring SERPENT ILLUSION, THROUGH A DEAD SOCIETY, DEATHLAM, APATHIA and the aforementioned PHENOMY. We would like to thank The Back Door, PHENOMY, HAVOC and HIGHWAY 69 and hope that this is only a small step towards what might again become of Lebanon’s Metal scene.