Saturday, October 04, 2003

Hard Rockin' in Hebrew

This old Forward article on Yossi Piamenta is interesting.

Notable grafs:
"But while the music may not quite compare to that coming out of the more secular world, if you're looking for an authentic subculture in indie rock you probably couldn't do better than New York's quietly growing chasidic rock community. Some of the bands, like Moshe Antelis' Rikud, are hardly rocking; they're the sort of wedding outfit that mildly plays reggae versions of traditional Hebrew ballads and a lounge music-tinged "Hine Ma Tov." The band Rock B'Simcha, on the other hand, proudly bills itself as "Zep on Torah," even though their heavy metal has more in common with bands like Helmet or Metallica (that is, if Helmet or Metallica took to singing in Hebrew and dedicating songs to Jonathan Pollard). You almost have to love a heavy metal band that between songs tells the crowd, "Alright, now we're gonna do some horas!"
I've never heard of Rock B'simcha aside from that one show they did with Piamenta and Rikud. Anyone know anything about them?
"Despite these differences, in some very conventional ways the fans of these bands fit the indie rock stereotype. For one, they smoke a lot: the girls, the guys, the bands, all of them light up. They work the bar, drinking their Coronas and Rolling Rocks. They like their music loud, and even if the women tend to line dance regardless of the tune, a few of the men have managed to get the head-banging motion down pat. If they aren't quite up to par on the indie fashion front - at Mr. Piamenta's most recent show ties, sweater vests and yarmulkes were the order of the day - they have some things figured out: this is a community, after all, that wears that hip downtown black a lot.
The smoking and drinking at these bar performances are part of the reason I think the marketing of such concerts to "frum" youth is inappropriate.
"And if chasidic rockers and their fans aren't quite rebels in the conventional rock sense, they're certainly rebels in the broader sense of the word. Appreciating - let alone playing - hard rock is not common in the tightly knit, ultra-Orthodox community, and almost all of the musicians have had to overcome serious doubts. 'Eventually, I realized that God had given me a gift,' says one, 'and that there was nothing wrong with playing rock.'"
Oftentimes, this gift of musical creativity is viewed by some in the "frum" community as a Yetzer Hara (negative impulse) that needs to be conquered rather than a positive impulse that should be directed appropriately.