Thursday, February 1

Outlandish At Scala

Awesome, awesome, awesome. But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

I got there late of course. That was pretty inevitable considering I went home to pick up my car first. Still, I guess that there was no need to rush; although the doors opened at 7:30pm, no one was expecting the main act to come on stage till at least an hour later. As for getting in, thankfully I had my girls in the queue waiting beforehand (and that's the only reference you guys are gonna get, sorry. Oh, but thanks for inviting me to come).

Scala was a smaller venue than I had expected. Although we got in relatively early the main floor was already rammed, and the gallery was filling up fast. Some bright spark amongst us had the idea of grabbing a place up on a balcony and we eventually ended up on the super-secret highest one; although it was the furthest spot from which to see the stage, for the 25 or so of us up there it was quiet, intimate and offered a fantastic unobstructed view of all the acts playing. I've posted some pics here.

Support was in the form of Friction and Nihal doing their "thing", with DJ Kayper doing hers. I still think Nihal is much better on the radio than he is in person, but thankfully he wasn't too annoying this time. DJ Kayper was just as lovely as she usually is. Sigh.

We also got to sample Gypsies, who really weren't that bad for a support band. Loud and raw, they kinda reminded me of a European Linkin' Park. As good as these extras were, however, none of us had come for Friction, Nihal, Kayper or Gypsies. Our reason for being there walked on stage just after 9:30pm.

Outlandish played the predictable: Peelo, Walou, Guantanamo, Just Me, Sakeena and Look Into My Eyes amongst other popular tracks. Thankfully they played (albeit an abridged) Kom Igen, although judging by the reaction of the crowd I might have been the only one to appreciate that live. There was no Fatima's Hand - I found that surprising considering the audience. All in all they played 12-13 tracks from both albums cumulating (of course) with Aicha, but that only after a well rehearsed and teasing fake leaving of the stage. Like we cared.

Whatever I felt about Outlandish before tonight pales in comparison to my opinion of them now. They took their music to another level; these guys really know how to perform live. Perhaps listening to their two albums constantly for the past couple of days is what did it for me, but there was a level of involvement by the whole audience that really blew me away. We all became pretty wired.

Speaking of the audience, I have never seen so many swinging hijabis before, all perfectly comfortable in a cramped and mixed crowd. Although I had heard about this kind of thing (at GPUs and the like) it was definitely something I hadn't experienced first hand. The cynical side of me rates Outlandish for putting a smiling hijabi in their first popular music video - I suspect a whole bunch of these people wouldn't be here if they hadn't (and I wonder how many realise that it's actually a cover). Still, it was an enjoyable crowd if not a bit too young and groupie.

Outlandish were awesome live and it took me ages to come down from the gig; I expect to be humming more than a few of their tracks over the next few days. They more than surpassed my expectations and I was totally and utterly surprised that they weren't just good but absolutely brilliant instead. Awesome, awesome, awesome.