Tuesday: Womens day and Wednesday: Arts day

Sound Central Festival 2013 is being held at a place called the Institut Francais Afghanistan (IFA) which is a French arts and theatre compound. There is heaps of security on every building I’ve been into, really high walls, lots of guns and barbed wire. The actual compound is awesome and the amphitheatre seats about 550 and then there’s more space outside. The whole place has been really busy for the past 2 days of the festival which is great and there were heaps of local and foreign press.

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Of most interest to people covering the festival was Womens Day, the first day of the festival. Apparently Afghan women are still quite tentative around men so the festival organisers made a day just for them. Because I was doing the onstage audio, I was one of the few men allowed into the venue, all the press, bands, performers, and of course the audience, were women. Many of the audience girls got up on stage and read poems they had written. The highlight for me was when local rock band White City played near the end of the day and the girls went crazy. Their teachers were telling them to sit down but they wouldn’t listen, they were up jumping around and dancing, having the best time. It was beautiful to see. Another interesting section was a fashion show (that wasn’t on my schedule!). The girls wearing the latest Afghan fashions did an amazing job of walking backwards and forwards across the uneven stage strewn with piles of cables and wires in the highest high heels imaginable. I guess the broken streets of Kabul create professional high heel wearers out of these girls…

The first 2 days of the festival sort of ran together. I had four hours sleep, met a thousand people, and drank duty free whiskywith a bunch of people from all over the world; mostly Afghans that lived elsewhere and have come back since the Taliban left. Kabul seems safe although there is an unofficial curfew and everyone seems to go home when it gets dark. There are heaps of AK-47s, about 10 people at each street corner holding one or slung over the shoulder. Some people live in huge big houses with heaps of rooms. Away from the festival the hospitality has been amazing, beautiful meals every night and friendly fun people. I’m staying at a guesthouse called Weiss, I don’t know where it is. Here are some typical Kabul street photos…

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At the festival, I’m a sound technician on stage making sure the bazookis, cellos, tablas, guitars, basses, flutes, drums, computers, and microphones all work, are plugged in and the audio sent to Jase. He mixes it all for the audience and I try to tell him how the musos want the sound on stage. I don’t know if that makes sense to a non bandy person. Here are a collection of power leads, the types of plugs and voltage is all pretty random here. Below that is the IFA sound desk, it’s a digital desk which is pretty fancy but a bit of a headache for Jase to begin with… That’s our official mascot, Guts, on top of the desk.

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I played bass with a local rock band this arvo called Pit Panther Party and the kids went mental. No one could hear anything on stage and we made it up on the spot but whatever, the real rock music and metal bands start tomorrow. The most popular hard rock/metal band in Kabul, District Unknown, play tomorrow, last year they had the first ever stage diver in Afghanistan, this year I heard they are gonna be the first onstage guitar smashers, look forward to that. I can play one song with White City when they play again tomorrow because their bass player/singer wants to jump into the crowd and go mental for one song in particular. I learnt the song the other day so that should be lots of fun. Here’s some pics of White City playing for the girls, it was awesome…

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I set up mics and mixed for a bunch of kids who were rapping over tunes they have made, then I DJed while another bunch of kids danced and did some insane breakdancing and acrobatics. A couple of kids were doing backflips off the stage, it was cool as *&%$. Jase and I played to warm up for our Saturday gig (we’re opening for some polish pop band… or something…), and while we played, heaps of kids were skating on a makeshift skatepark right in front of us. I wish I had photos of that, I’ll try and find some…

I’ve gotta go to bed or I’ll fall down, but I just programmed some crazy sounds from Mars, see how they sound tomorrow morning through the amphitheatre sound system.

Post 3: Rock day then relax…

Peace,

Craigus

Comment: You can do it!!