Words by: Stephanie Jacoby | Images by: Aaron Williams
Hadag Nachash :: 02.06.08 :: Center Stage :: Atlanta, GA
I remember a time when going to see an Israeli band meant that you were going to a Jewish temple for some community event designed to bring congregants to the synagogue. The music was always pretty lame, but in reality it was nothing more than a social hour, a family-related event that you and your parents could both enjoy. Hadag Nachash was no ordinary Israeli band, and they definitely weren't playing in a temple social hall.
|Hadag Nachash :: 02.06|
This year, the State of Israel will turn 60 years old, and massive, elaborate celebrations are happening around the world. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta decided to bring internationally renowned Hadag Nachash to Center Stage in Midtown in honor of the occasion.
Hadag Nachash are so different from the Israeli bands I was used to, the ones that play Klezmer music or the ones dressed in army garb. The eight-piece Hadag identifies itself primarily with the funk genre but also mixes in a bit of hip-hop, trance and world music. The coolest part about the whole show was watching their frontmen Sha'anan Streett, Guy Mar and Shlomi Alon rap in Hebrew, and then introduce the next song in near-perfect English. Nobody knew exactly what they were singing about. They could have been freestyling about doing acid at a club in Tel Aviv (at one point, they told the audience that beers and rolling papers were available at the front of the venue) but because each song was sung in Hebrew, ignorance was most certainly bliss for most of the gathered mass that evening.
Alon was the most versatile, playing a different instrument for each tune. First he took the stage to throw down a few lyrical blasts, then hung back to play flute, followed by saxophone and then keys. He was truly the most intriguing member of the band.
|Hadag Nachash :: 02.06|
Each song sounded wildly different than the next. At one point they completely channeled Particle's trippy trance dance beats and the next minute they were slamming to Parliament-Funkadelic style bass and trumpet licks. Couple that with an incredible stage presence and their masterful audience interaction and you've got yourself a show worth seeing again and again.
When I was younger, I always thought that Israel was another planet because the Israelis that performed at Sunday school wore outdated clothing, sang really old songs and were a just a little behind the times. As most American children are somewhat unaware of the existence of other countries, I can't say that I blame myself for my misapprehensions. But, I can say that bands like Hadag Nachash are a diamond in the rough when it comes to Israeli talent.
Continue reading for more images of Hadag Nachash in Atlanta...