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Three exciting young unsigned bands will share one stage in Tel Aviv this Thursday, with their energies harnessed to create one mean show. Tel Aviv's own Cangaroo reggae act is headlining the Inbar music club gig, but the religious musicians of Aharit Hayamim and Hamakor are also eager to take the stage.
Up-and-coming Jerusalem-based rock act Hamakor is especially excited to make its Big Orange premiere. Hamakor gelled as a band only this past January, and its oldest member, lead guitarist Yakir Hyman, is just 21. Principal songwriter and lead vocalist Nachman Solomon has big shoes to fill, though, with older brothers Noah and Yehuda having forged successful American careers with Soulfarm and The Moshav Band, respectively. Speaking about Hamakor's creative relationship with those bands, Solomon says, "the music is coming from the same place" - both literally and figuratively.
Hamakor has quite a resume for a band that's only existed in earnest for about half a year. It has already played Pirsumei Nisa's Dead Sea Festival this past Pessah, opened for The Moshav Band at Club Tzora, opened for Aharit Hayamim at Jerusalem's Mamilla bar, holds a monthly residency gig at Mike's Place, and its Independence Day gig at a Rehavia house party got hundreds of impromptu guests dancing so hard that the floor caved in.
"It brought down the house," says Hyman, setting up a nargilla while taking a break from rehearsals in a Nahlaot apartment.
"The Mike's Place shows are the most fun because you get to experiment a lot," he says. "You get a lot more time than material, so you get to jam out and go places. We get to play until 2 a.m. That's the difference from a 45-minute opening set - you get to breathe."
Thursday's opening set marks a new direction for Hamakor, which hopes that roots reggae Cangaroo's largely secular, non-American fan base will get excited about Hamakor and stick with them.
"We want an Israeli crowd, to break into that market," says Solomon, who loves the yeshiva students who frequent the band's shows but feels their absence over the summers, when yeshivot are not in session. "This is a good opening."
Aharit Hayamim's own career seems to be taking off lately as well, with several gigs planned for the summer, beginning with Sunday's annual Aharit Hayamim Festival. Starting at 4 p.m. and continuing into the night (with camping areas available), this year's festival features performances by Nachat Ruach, Sinai Tor, Benny Landau, Aaron Razel, DJ Dub Reggae, Aharit Hayamim themselves and several other acts.
"Our plan is to start it Sunday but to keep going the whole summer through - without planning too much - to take it on the road to all of Israel," says Aharit Hayamim founder and frontman Yehuda Leuchter. "We don't want to do a celebration because that's not suitable for what's going on in the country right now. It's not going to be a party. We'll take our reggae and turn it into prayer."
The band is in the process of launching a new Web site, a preliminary version of which can be seen at www.aharit.net, and Aharit Hayamim's long-anticipated full-length debut studio album will be on sale within days. Manager Moshe Cornfeld sees the eponymous release as a key to crossing over from a fan base that is largely religious-nationalist to one that is mixed.
"This is a type of music that a lot of people can connect to," he says. "People are looking for something more spiritual - the same people who would listen to Shotei Hanevuah and Sheva, even Mook-E and Idan Raichel; there's a [mainstream] demand for spiritual music."
Hamakor's status as a "Jewish" act is similarly fluid. "We're Jewish, so our music is Jewish," muses Hyman. "I don't know what that label means."
Solomon agrees, classifying the band's style more in terms of its influences (grunge, funk, reggae, jam bands) than any religious classification. "The words are meaningful and spiritual, but we don't play mostly songs based on biblical verses," he says.
According to Cornfeld, Aharit Hayamim's brand of world-beat reggae focuses on messiah and redemption, "but it's a redemption with everybody else; it's about bringing the nation of Israel together."
When Inbar shakes with largely skullcapless bouncing this Thursday, it'll be hard to argue.
Sunday's Aharit Hayamim festival takes place at Bat Ayin Forest in Gush Etzion at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at (054) 201-1494 and cost NIS 35 in advance or NIS 40 at the entrance. Thursday's performances by Cangaroo, Aharit Hayamim and Hamakor take place at Inbar (formerly Hevruta), on Rehov Harehavim in Tel Aviv. The show is scheduled for 8 p.m., with tickets costing NIS 40.