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LIVE REPORT: EEK feat. Islam Chipsy
Yousif Nur , January 7th, 2016 18:23

Yousif Nur reports from London Contemporary Music Festival

Islam Chipsy's out-of-this-world performance in October 2014 at the Dome, was an explosive mix of classic meeting contemporary Egyptian music. Last year subsequently saw Chipsy's long awaited debut album Kahraba released, which took the seventh spot in tQ's Albums Of The Year.

In a review I wrote in the summer, I said "there's nothing else quite like these guys out there, anywhere." I stand by every word, and that point is enhanced further this evening. If anyone knows of any reason why Islam Chipsy isn't the best thing to come out of Egypt right now, speak now et cetera, et cetera.

Technically, this isn't an EEK show. Islam Chipsy is present, but in one of the drummer's places is Mahmoud Refat, the label and venue manager of Cairo's 100 Copies, which would make this an EMK show. But tonight, they're headlining the penultimate installment of LCMF Festival taking place in Ambika P3. The venue itself is eerily reminiscent of Studio 1 at Abbey Road Studios in terms of its layout and space. EEK (on paper) themselves are a little out of place considering they're lumped in with a line up of avant-garde performers. After all, these guys are street performers in Cairo playing to weddings, parties and raves.   The drums are so loud that they reverberate right across the venue, with many putting fingers in their ears. The two percussionists are almost waging war on us, rather than playing, that we can barely hear Chipsy's keyboard bashing. The sound of his Yamaha PSR A-2000 is what we're here for as one or two motion to the sound man to turn his keyboard up in the mix at the end of the first song. The keyboard specifically is a custom-made Oriental and Middle Eastern workstation, programmed to play and function to their respective native countries. This lends authenticity and dynamism to their act, rather than a standardised keyboard. Suddenly, a high-pitched key chirps the room up and we're ready to go again.

Strangely, their performance seems like a rock concert in places, carried by the thumps of the two drummers, flanked between Islam Chipsy. Despite them getting carried away now and again, it's thoroughly enjoyable to watch as the trio of Islam Chipsy, Mahmoud Refat (who is standing in for their main drummer on this tour), and Khaled Mando; pummelling super-tight through their repertoire of traditional, which here co-exists with modern Egyptian standards.

When they're done for the night, the audience are far from satisfied. They're baying for more. Mahmoud Refat motions to the audience from the side of the stage that it's not up to them, but the promoters, who generously allow a one-song encore. Considering their tracks are around 10 minutes long, it does just nicely.

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