Last year, after the Atlanta rock band Black Lips released the album Arabia Mountain, its members planned a trip to tour the Middle East, but the wave of Arab Spring protests forced them to change plans. Yet even with simmering anti-Americanism persisting throughout the region, singer-guitarist Ian St. Pe was determined to see this through. Cairo, where I spoke with them on Friday, was the band’s second stop.
“It is kind of wild to be over here at this time with all the stuff that’s going on in the region,” St. Pe said. “I just want to say, ‘Hey, don’t hate us because one person did something.’ ”
The crowd at the cultural center where the band played — known more for folk music and poetry readings — was a mix of Egyptians, European and American expats, even some families with small children, some of whom climbed up on the side of the stage to watch. Many admitted not knowing much about the Black Lips, saying they came for the local opening acts, rock groups called Zero-50 and Faking It.
20-year-old Ghada Ali said she supports the demonstrators outside the U.S. Embassy earlier this month. But Ali, who wears a hijab, doesn’t see any problem with coming to an American rock concert.
“When I attend here, it will not affect my attendance there at the embassy,” Ali said. “Some people would say that if I totally boycotted the United States, I shouldn’t attend the concert, but I don’t see it that way.”
Drummer Joe Bradley said the band is trying to keep politics out of their tour.
“We just want to share music, and we want to learn as much from the cultures that we experience as hopefully they can learn from us, but hopefully, we can get them movin’,” Bradley says. “We got that rock and roll back beat. And they might not even know rock and roll but it makes your big toe shoot up in your boot and makes your hips go back and forth. I think they’ll enjoy it all.”
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