Words by: Kevin Schwartzbach | Images from: myspace.com/infectedmushroomcentral
Infected Mushroom :: 02.11.10 :: Ganey HaTaarucha :: Tel Aviv, Israel
Anywhere else in the world, Infected Mushroom would have been just another concert. The band receives decent recognition internationally for their continuous efforts since the mid '90s making genre-bending, if not genre-creating, trance-fusion music. But when this Israeli-bred band returns home from their extensive world touring to regale their countrymen it's more than just a display of highly innovative music, more than just a raging trance party that captivates the senses for hours on end – it's a cultural celebration.
Arguably the biggest band to come out of Israel in the country's short history, both on a local and international scale, their homecomings are always joyous occasions. At their first show of 2010 in Israel, Infected brought it harder than usual, making their last show in Jerusalem back in December seem tame by comparison. Though only about an hour (or considerably less than that if you drive like most Israelis) away, Tel Aviv exhibits a wholly different ethos than Jerusalem. While Jerusalem has more of a pious atmosphere, being a spiritual haven for three of the world's major religions, Tel Aviv is, well, more of a party town. The myriad of yarmulkes present at the Jerusalem show was replaced with glow sticks and body paint. And that willingness to party hard was duly reciprocated by Israel's biggest musical act, bringing in special guest Matisyahu for the occasion.
Countless people came out to Ganey HaTaarucha to get down with Infected Mushroom, in numbers that ironically few local acts are capable of attracting. A giant inflatable humanoid mushroom with razor sharp teeth and ominously glowing eyes stood at the back of stage with a maniacal grin spread across his face and "Infected" tattooed across his chest. He resembled Toad from Mario if he had decided to turn evil and was subsequently recruited by Bowser. The now-quintet took the stage with a gallant vigor. "I'm gonna push you until you're gonna get it," screamed Amit "Duvdev" Duvdevani (lead vocals) emphatically, jumping right into "Poquito Mas" off the new album, The Legend of the Black Shwarma.
Originally Infected was a duo consisting of Duvdev and Erez Eisen (keyboards, turntables), but have been slowly adding members to their psychedelic ensemble over the last few years. Today most of their live shows are given with the aid of a full live band complete with drum kit and guitar(s). It is this organic accompaniment, supplementing the usual synthesizers and drum machines regularly found in trance music that gives them such a big and unique sound. Over time that sound has evolved from what used to be straight-ahead trance to their present-day idiosyncratic trance-fusion, mixing in elements of psychedelic rock and heavy metal. Much of their set came off their latest release, the most heavy metal influenced album to date. And with guitarists Erez Netz and Tom Cunningham shredding throughout the night, the show often felt more like a rock concert than a trance party.
|Infected Mushroom :: 02.11 :: Israel|
It wasn't long before Matisyahu joined them for the first of many guest turns. The American stood out like a sore thumb with his long Hassidic beard, hippie-like garb and intimidating stature (standing at roughly 6'5") against the backdrop of his Israeli cohorts. But sonically his jubilantly optimistic reggae sound meshed well with Infected's dark, coarse trance-rock fusion. The heavy four-to-the-floor beat of "Saeed," with its ominous feel, transitioned surprisingly well into the jovially bouncy syncopation of Matisyahu's "One Day."
A mix of their well-known older material saw Infected Mushroom at their tranciest, and the crowd at the most hectic. "Cities of the Future," quite possibly the band's best known song, came out early in the set to a torrent of applause. Despite the song's aforementioned fame, Infected did a good job of defying expectations to keep things interesting. "I found myself," shrieked Duvdev repeatedly as the song slowly built up, the whole crowd anticipating the song's tumultuous peak right afterwards as found on 2004's IM the Supervisor, but instead dropping into a warbling breakdown that once again slowly built itself up before finally fulfilling expectations.
Set closer "Becoming Insane" was the only evidence of Infected's Middle-Eastern origin during the show. The ethnic guitar line melted into a pulsing beat that sent ripples through the cavernous room, while ghostly, strobing lights flashed in rhythm with the music.
|Matisyahu with Infected Mushroom :: 02.11 :: Israel|
"In-fec-ted" chanted the awaiting crowd in unison with drummer Rogério Jardim's bass drum before the Brazilian's solo that started off the first of two encores. "I Wish" was the lone song of the first encore, manifesting itself in a rather progressive interpretation, moving through many different sections fluidly linked together, including a dubbed out portion with Matisyahu's spitfire rapping. The second encore consisted of "Special Place" to close out Infected's show with a bang.
But the party was far from over. As the dance floor became more sparsely populated (giving us more room to dance), Israeli DJ Astrix kept us writhing for hours longer, mixing a selection of tracks that was more straight-ahead psy-trance than the Infected Mushroom set. Astrix, born Avi Shmailov, is also one of Israel's leading psy-trance acts and has been making waves internationally over the last few years, having been ranked #18 on DJ Magazine's top 100 DJs list in 2007.
With the first flickers of morning sunlight on the horizon, traces of throbbing beats and flashing lights still fresh in my mind, the evening finally came to a close. It's a rarity for a local act to put on a musical event of this magnitude. With such a unique sound and overpowering live performances it's no wonder that Infected Mushroom has grown to the level of popularity that they have both in Israel and abroad.
Infected Mushroom tour dates available here.
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