August Breathers

IMG_6827 (1)IMG_6816August kicked in with two concerts working in parallel. It allowed me to test my team, without me being on ground or even available to solve or help around:
Luana (my right hand) and the “minions” took care of Hiba Tawaji’s rehearsals and concert at Byblos International Festival, while I was working in Beirut with Mashrou’ Leila for this gig at Beirut Holidays in Biel.
I also got to initiate a friend in production on the Beirut concert. The result on both concerts was satisfying on our side, even though we hit a few bumps with the teams we’ve worked with.

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Most of the festival team was waiting for the final band to arrive, as they were all big fans.

IMG_7211 (1) IMG_7251I was highly grateful to discover that this amazing band was humble and down to earth, and so respectful and nice to the people working around and with them: Alt-J.
Some were disappointed by the live performance and their presence on stage, but I don’t know what people expect in the indie rock scene. The lights were stunning, the drummer’s performance was breath taking, and the whole band’s live music was really nice!
Sitting down before and after the show and talking about music, art and life with the band and the crew was a great finale to this August month.
I was really glad the team got to enjoy that, it was a small reward to all our interns and young stagehands after 2 months of hard work.
Plus, I got to introduce Melow to Joe, while talking about lyrics and pain and dealing with the pain this past year.

IMG_6971This month gave a bit more breathers than the last, and I got to witness a big bro, Rabih Salloum, getting married to the wonderful Sarah Hermez.
It was heartwarming and so unique, especially when everyone respected the “sneakers” dress code and grandmas showed up in dresses and adidas.

At the same time, I’m really proud to say that Diane, a young 4 a Cause volunteer, is managing our next event, which is a bit different from the rest, and supporting an awesome cause about cardiac arrest with young athletes: Foot 4 a Cause, supporting Remy Rebeiz Young Heart Foundation.
If you’re in Beirut and play soccer, join us on September 6th and support the cause.

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On a small note, I started working at a bar, just for the fun of it, and to have a bit more on my hands when I get breathers. Because in the end, we’re not young to have breathers.

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Lebanon’s Festivals, Sunny July

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July started out with Liban Jazz’s gig for Bombino. I had to work in the Music Hall Waterfront for the first time, which is maybe the most beautiful venue I’ve seen in a long time. This was also a test for me on Liban Jazz, as it is usually run by one person. The band was nice and fun to be with, and the music was different from what I usually work with. All in all, it was a good show.

IMG_6606IMG_6486 As the festival got closer, I met up more and more at the Buzz Productions’ office: this year, my job was different on Byblos International Festival. I had to take care of operations rather than production. Wether it was transportation schedules, routing for bands, airport paperwork or even the streets’ marketing spread.
Although, I deployed my young production team at Byblos, under a different production manager’s name, at the last minute. So, I’m working even more backstage on backstage preparations. This is a test to what I can handle on a bigger plate, as it is the biggest project I have ever worked on these past three years. It’s also about me testing a young team of production assistant, site manager, runners, stagehands and interns, that I have no doubt will prevail to what is expected of them.

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We greeted and produced various artists this July:
John Legend and his extraordinary team of musicians and technicians,
The Script’s mind blowing show and charisma, they knew how to make a crowd road,
Rodrigo Y Gabriela which were one my greatest discoveries this year, but who also discovered our local Safar band, and falling in love with Mayssa’s beautiful voice, calling her up on stage to join (sadly, she wasn’t present at the concert),
Gregory Porter who were just so funny to meet and work with, apart from having this huge amazing voice,
Mireille Mathieu who still kicks it at this age, and who went back for a second encore to a loud crowd, in her night gown and barefoot,
Hiba Tawaji and the Rahbani brothers, who enchanted as a local pride,
And Sacré Profane which was an interesting challenge for us to set up in a small church and garden for an opera show.

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IMG_6310Right in the middle of Byblos’ Festival, we also had to work on Jim Beam’s Rock Festival. There was a stressful challenge for me to pull on this one with my team, because of last year’s problems: the schedule had to be respected with the local line up for the international band to play right on schedule and for the public to enjoy as many bands as they could. Although I am proud to be Lebanese, we all know most of us are always late, never respect timings and have a tendency to take details lightly in this industry. We had 7 bands on stage, and I am very proud to say that the first band delayed us by 10 min, which we made up for in 5 min changeovers, and were even early to greet Meen on stage. In the end, Glenn Hughes was on stage right on time, and rocked the hell out of it!

Another festival I got to work on, even if for a very brief and small touch, was Jounieh’s: a friend and artist, Poly, asked me to help her out at her opening for Jessie J’s concert. The cool thing about this, was discovering that her performance is not only musical, but also visual and very detail oriented. Keep an eye out for her, her videos are amazing to watch blasted behind her while she sings.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.19.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.52.06 PMOn another side of my motors, I got to work on design and illustration projects:
I helped out a friend with a Volvo pitch for the launching of a new car. Drawing boats and cars was a small change from what I did for the past months.
Added to that, one of my old girl scouts, who happens to be a chief now is taking her whole unit to camp in England. She called me up, asking for a logo for the voyage. The result is maybe one of the coolest logos I ever did, and had to finish in one day.

“February Made Me Shiver” – Part 1

I have been sitting for at least 30 min at Kissproof playing with a puppy instead of getting myself to write this post, since I don’t even know how to begin anymore, having been absent for at least three months.

So maybe I start gradually.

February fell hard on all of us, with the loss of a close friend/sister/little apprentice/champion. And I don’t know if it was that or other painful experiences that gave me the drive to distract my mind with work, but I guess it has been working well for most of the time.
Little one, I was sitting with your godmother at your house. We had a song together a few years back. Don McLean’s American Pie. She was in Dubai when you left us, and she sent me the song. But on that night, two weeks later, in your house, she said to me: Look at the lyrics. “February made me shiver”.
That simple coincidence pinched our heart and made us smile at the same time.

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A colleague of mine got me in a production team for a future show called RKOD produced by Iron Heyoka. I got to taste the difference between what you can call film production and show production. It’s safe to say I prefer concerts and music. The rush is just bigger.
Not to be unfair or mean, the work was interesting, the team was fun to work with but… there’s just that running-around-not-sitting-still-for-even-a-second that you don’t get in concerts that I’m just addicted to.
However, brace yourselves for RKOD which will be out when the time is right.

rtrippingThe reason why I had to work on RKOD was for me to understand how a TV show works, since the surprise I have been teasing about on this blog is another TV show I have been dying to reveal. But in order to deliver a good product, good work should be done in the right time.

However the picture can maybe make you guess a bit, since I document most of what I do for this blog. So, that was another project I worked on for the past three months in collaboration with Iron Heyoka.
This one is also going to honor you Melow.

IMG_1689Speaking of Melow, February made us shiver, but also woke us up in many ways. Melanie was a volunteer at 4 a Cause in its early beginning. Her sister and some of her friends joined the team recently, and the old ones all agreed that our next project will go to fund a charity organization her family is trying to open in her name. She believed in helping the less fortunate, she worked with charities organizations and always fought for what was right. We don’t have more information on what is coming up next, but we thought we could star
t by raising funds for the upcoming project, which we trust will reflect the same guidelines we go by. She went by the same.

10995704_929496773757156_3705217952851407934_oSo we threw a party at Behind the Green Door, and we marked our t-shirts with her name on it.

I taught Melanie back in scouts, that in the indian tribes, the right arm was believed to be the strong arm because it was located on the heart’s side.
So we put her name on the right sleeve.

Another good news related to 4 a Cause is Sara Khatib’s dream coming true.
Sara Khatib was an inspirational young woman who left us too early last summer. 4 a Cause threw a concert in her name if you remember Music 4 Sara. You can actually check out a quick sum up of the event on this video produced by Hadrien Bechara.
One of her goals was to open a support group for amputees in Lebanon, since she couldn’t find one herself.
With our help and yours, the funds raised during that concert went straight to her family who worked hard on opening: Look Forward, Sara Khatib’s cancer and amputee association for the youth. Make sure to check it out, and like the page to support this incredible initiative.

On another production side, I have been hired to take over a job I can’t find a right title to with Buzz Productions, for the Byblos International Festival.
I was usually outsourced on this festival as a freelance production assistant these past two years.
This summer, I’ll be working with the routings, schedules and the care of the artists and their teams.
Buzz Productions already announced their first two acts: John Legend and The Script.
The rest of the line up will be revealed soon.

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This post has been going for too long now, and I should cut it in half, in order not to bore the life out of you.
The other half will be following this upcoming week.

 

Byblos v. 2.0 – Finalization

Beirut was a great band to end the festival with. The music suited a goodbye, the crew was easy and fun to work with. The band was nice to meet.

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As I dropped Zach back to the hotel, fatigue kicked out of my body and the final adrenaline rush went buzzing in my system. We packed up the office, de-rigged the whole stage, sent the team home and said goodbye to the historical ruins that hosted us this year again for the music. This second year was better for me at the festival than the previous. It taught me a lot more, due to unexpected circumstances and problems, and opened a whole lot of opportunities for me. It was also a therapy against the mishaps of Rubik, which proved to be a very unpleasant experience.

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Family duties called too at the same time, as we have gone through a terrible loss.
But it’s at these times that we realize what it means to have a family we always took for granted. A vacation together was in plans. So, we’re heading for Naxos!

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Final Gigs at Byblos

Hadn’t had the time to get on here and post a few updates, so you’ll be getting pictures and notes about 4 concerts at once and the prep for the last one!

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Stromae was off the hook. One of the greatest performances I’ve seen. It wasn’t just about the music; visuals, animations, costumes, stage presence… everything. The crew and band were even easy and down to earth. We grabbed a few drinks afterwards. Some people keep a warm heart even with a big rise to the top.

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The day after, an old cute guy was walking around the site in the morning: Mulatu. Very happy and modest man. Grabbing me by the arm while I was working, asking me random questions like we’ve known each other for a long time.
Had a great work time with Ibrahim Maalouf’s production manager too. The change-over was a bit complicated but I pulled it off with the team. Ibrahim gave one hell of a show!

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Guy Manoukian’s concert was the last one we just finished. A bit more work on that, having 38 musicians on stage and 5 risers. This band even had two days of rehearsal prior to the concert. So we had longer time to work on the production for that. A special wink to Mehdi who  insisted on having a picture on the blog: Hands off that expensive piano dude!

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Last but not least: Beirut.
Started loading in the backline and risers about two days ago. We also had Postcards, our local opening band for that concert, sound checking yesterday. You will be surprised with some new songs tonight. Always loved that band, they helped out a year ago with a 4 a Cause charity concert.

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And So It Goes On

Coming back from Paris straight to work. Taking back the Byblos Festival rhythm.
We welcomed back Yanni and his crew this year. Awesome people to work with. Learned a lot from them this year as I did last year.
The concert was amazing as expected.

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Then Massive Attack dropped in. Wow. The concert was mind blowing, maybe a bit more on a personal note. The messages, music, involvement of the artist…

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The crew was also superb. Took the load out a step further organizing the boxes in the truck, because of a massive load of equipment for that gig. The interns learned a lot too, on stage and in the pit with the crowd.
Even with a few setbacks, we managed to pull it off. The band was down to earth, and even opened up the backstage to some fans, taking pictures, giving autographs and lots of memories to be shared down the line. They opened up their backstage area to the volunteers of the palestinian camps which they visited the day before.

I have been looking at options to get out of Lebanon and explore more, as the situation here doesn’t help the industry and puts out a lot of limits on our jobs.

Next up tonight: Epica.

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But a small whisper on the side… a new resolution I have to make sure I keep: draw more.
Always (almost) did it for myself, and that should return.

Lana Del Rey & the Crazy Fans in Byblos

Where should I start?

A fan posted a picture with Lana Del Rey who thought she could take a simple walk in Byblos one day prior to her gig.

We found about a hundred of fans screaming out and sitting outside her hotel door on the next day on our way to the venue.
This seems ordinary in another country, but we’re not used to that here. It was really something to witness that.
She was kind enough to go out on the balcony and tell them she’ll meet them in a few downstairs. She took pictures with most of the people there and even talked to some of them.

As for the gig… as soon as we opened the gates to the venue, I saw hundreds of kids and adults, big and small, young and old running as fast as they could to have the premium places under the stage to enjoy the show… again, not that common in Lebanon.
Lana Oh Lana….

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The gig was good. Audience was really happy and singing along. Musicians were awesome. The crew was great to hang out with and meet these two days. Small wink to Pat, the stage manager, and thanks for the gift!