Hadag Nakhash somewhat disappointing in Boston
Ever since their oddball hit, the "Sticker Song," an amalgamation of Israeli bumper sticker slogans penned by the brilliant novelist and journalist David Grossman, I have been curious about הדג נחש. I got a CD and it sounded like pretty mainstream hip-hop pop, but what do I know? So, when I heard that they were coming to Brandeis, I wasted no time in getting tickets.
Sad to say, this concert was a reminder that I am no longer 15 (the age of a friend's son who loves the band), nor am I part of the crowd of Brandeis students that could enjoy the music simply because it has a beat and is in Hebrew. The evening began with an opening band, Nanuchka (sp?) from Brooklyn. Not a terrible band. Excellent stage presence. Then, after a very short 10-minute stage change, the main band appeared.
They feature an okay horn section. Well, one trombone and one sax. The trombonik was okay. The sax wasn't bad. The beat was pretty reasonable. The acoustics in the hall were such that anyone who hadn't already memorized the lyrics was out of luck. The voices sounded reasonably good. But after an incredibly repetitive refrain on the first song of מה שבא בא, and an incredibly repetitive refrain on the second song that seemed to be "oh yeah, oh yeah," I began to sense a certain sameness. Somewhere in there the band did a wonderful spoof on California surf bands as transmogrified by Israeli hip hop sounds, but even that eventually went on for too long. Then, the bass player, not one of the more capable members of the band, did an exceptionally long, wankerish solo. Then the band kicked up the volume and Judy and I realized that we had enjoyed as much as we were going to enjoy.
This was not a bad concert by any means. It just wasn't a good enough concert for people of my advanced age. It's not new to me any more, and it wasn't a special social event for us. I think I've heard enough. I wanna hear the really exciting edgy Israeli bands like Boom Pam or Kruzenshtern & Parohod. Maybe we'll get a chance in April when we hit the oft-promised land. But I think I've gotten enough of this one for now.
Thanks to Andy Tannenbaum for correcting my spelling of the band's name and pointing out that it is a pun on the near-ubiquitous notices on Israeli buses for נהג חדש. Not so clever a pun as Tipex (now spelled "teapacks" in english after the Israeli makers of "white-out" objected, which obscures the original idea of the band represented people who had been "whited out" from the national discourse), but a pun, nonetheless. Check out Wikipedia for more info.