In the next few months, Israel will be embraced with music concerts by the likes of Neil Young, Soundgarden, Justin Timberlake, the Pixies and even the Rolling Stones.
Second-tier performances have also been pouring into the Jewish state – as Calexico, Joanna Newsom, of Montreal, Hot Tuna, the Buzzcocks and many more have been seen in Israeli music clubs in the past months and years. Such “second- tier” acts might be young, old or at the peak of their career, but all enjoy a somewhat decent level of popularity.
While unable to fill up stadiums like Alicia Keys or Elton John, they are well-known enough to draw a few hundred Israeli music fans.
Now, it seems Israel might become a destination for third-tier performances – with entirely new, or relatively unheardof bands that even the devout Israeli music fan might not know of. In other words, the international indie scene is coming to Israel.
Pretty Lightning might be the spearhead of those future bands to come.
Invited by the newly founded ZUZZ Agency, the heavily based blues and psychedelic rock band from Germany will perform in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem this weekend.
Located in the southwestern German city of Saarbrücken, close to the French border, the band was formed sometime in 2007. “We don’t really remember the exact year because we played together since forever,” says guitar player Sebastian Haas. “It was never a clear decision to one day form a band, we just played together and it happened.”
Pretty Lightning is a duo that consists of an electric guitar and drums. The two, Haas and Christian Berghoff, are childhood friends and were musically selftaught.
The band’s sound could easily be compared to the Black Keys, but the two aren’t too happy about that one. “I wouldn’t say we try to sound like them,” Haas says defensively. “I think you shouldn’t try challenging the Black Keys.
It’s not a good idea cause you’re going to lose.” They emphasize their psychedelic touch (Black Keys on magic mushrooms) and their switch up of instruments and vocals.
Their sound is influenced by delta blues, ’60s psych-rock and German krautrock. The name Pretty Lightning came from a song by the ’90s American garage-punk band New Bomb Turks, which the duo were into at the time.
“Now we just think it sounds nice,” explains Haas.
As for coming to Israel, Haas admits that idea never crossed his mind. The band mostly performs in Germany, with the occasional tour across neighboring countries. As a matter of fact, coming to Israel will be the first time the two will leave Europe. “We received an invitation from Ohad Ezraty [of the ZUZZ Agency],” says Haas. “A few months ago, he asked us whether we were interested in coming to Israel… We never thought about performing there, but when presented with the opportunity we were delighted to take it.”
Ezraty is the owner and founder of ZUZZ Agency, or “move” in Hebrew, and is planning to bring many artists from abroad while including the Israeli audience in the process: In form of dialogue, asking who to bring and who they’d like to see. Pretty Lightning would be the first performance by the agency.
Ohad believes he can book bigger musicians in the future and is not worried about the volume of Israeli musicgoers.
“The Israeli scene is small,” says Ezraty.
“But it can recognize a high-quality duo and won’t hesitate to come, especially when the price is cheap.”
“The performance will also include special visual effects that will be screened behind the band, adding a unique aspect to the performance,” he adds.
Ezraty says that with the founding of ZUZZ Agency, bands abroad who perhaps never thought of coming to Israel will now start thinking of doing so.
They can make a debut performance here with an economically comfortable deal and come back later, after gaining a larger crowd.
Haas’s deep-sounding guitar and Berghoff’s tight drumming will surely do their best to win over the Israeli crowd.
Pretty Lightning did not learn the blues on the shores of the Mississippi, but they sound like they did – and they will perform here three times for the delight of our local music scene.
Performances: Tel Aviv – Thursday, 10 p.m. at the Levontin 7, 7 Levontin St., NIS 40; Jerusalem – Friday, 2 p.m. at the Uganda, 4 Aristobulus St., NIS 30; Haifa – Saturday, 8 p.m. at the SYRUP, 2 Hane’emanim St., NIS 40.
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