Jordan music festival moves away from mainstream

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Music fans looking to move away from the mainstream gathered in Amman for what is said to be the Middle East’s first alternative Arabic music festival.

Even the festival’s name was anything but conventional.

“Dum Tak” is based on the sound elicited from the boom of the drum and the smashing of the cymbal.

From May 28 to June 1, fifteen bands from across the region will treat fans to a wide array of reggae, indie pop, rap and rock.

Festival organiser Sara Abu Alia says high attendance in similar concerts in the past paved the way for Dum Tak.

“We decided to create a large project, to invite bands from different countries in the Arab world, and to initiate an annual event that will give exposure to musicians from the region. People want to see bands from outside of Jordan as well,” said Alia.

Alternative arabic music is a new genre of music inspired by western styles ranging from reggae to indie pop and rock. The genre tends to focus on political and social subject matters which ignite strong reactions from the youth of the region. The style offers a departure from the mainstream popular music which uses more traditional Arabic instruments and beats.

Alia explains that, despite its recent emergence in Arab culture, alternative music has a huge following across the region - a phenomenon spurred on by the accessibility of online music.

“I am 28 years old. When I was younger, 15, or 12 years old, Arab rock, or rap did not exist. If I wanted to listen to that genre I had to listen to western music, Arabic music was more traditional. Now this younger generation can go online and find music in their language, rock, rap, funk or folk all exist in Arabic. This, in short, is what alternative music is, and I believe this has a big future ahead of it, which is why we focused on it,” she said.

The bands featured over the course of the festival include the Palestinian reggae band Toot Ard, which opened the festival.

Additionally, Jordanian bands Autostrad and El Morabba3 were featured. The popular Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila are expected to appear on the last day of the festival.

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