It all started when a friend of mine sent me a picture of the concert’s poster. I was already bummed for not being able to go to L’Boulevard, specially that I really wanted to see the likes of JadaL and Betweenatna. As soon as I saw who’s coming to play, I had a rush of excitement just like a kid in a candy store. Not surprisingly, people came from all over Meknes to be there. The French Institution’s Theater barely held the number of fans who came to see the band. And let me tell you, they had a reason for flooding it. The concert was pure awesome. Even people who didn’t know who they were listening to finished the concert screaming: N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN…
The band started with a Nizar Qabbani inspired track, it was almost like Walead was reciting poetry in the most artistic manner you could possibly imagine, when everyone thought that was it, the beat started and the crowd went wild when a more rap-y version of the poem emerged from the band’s amplifiers.
The next two tracks were also from what I’d call ‘The Gods of Arabic Poetry’, Ahmed Matar and Gibran Khalil Gibran. When I asked the band about the reason why they chose to take their lyrics from such great poets, they responded by: These poets are the same ones who gave our forefathers the strength to change their communities. These pieces of poetry are still relevant today, for example, Irhalo by Ahmed Matar or Hawaamish ‘Ala Daftar An-Naksa by Nizar Qabbani are basically the unofficial anthems of the Arab Spring. It really comes natural to us to take inspiration from them.
Next thing on their playlist for us was The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale by Al-Asma’i. The witty lyrics and the combination of Walead and Houda, AKA T Queen, rapping their way through one of the most twisted pieces of Arabic poetry ever written, accompanied by a sick drummer is way beyond anything I’ve seen in awhile. It kinda reminded me of their weird name, N3rdistan. When I asked Walead where did the name really come from, he took it very humorously and stated: Well, i was walking one day, at about 6:45 (Sebâa L’lareb was his actual description) and I saw an N and an S, somehow along the way, that turned into N3rdistan, and here we are today, playing in Meknes.
After a couple more tracks, the band hit us with what Walead calls ‘Eletro 9bi7‘. It was an over-compressed mixture of Drum&Bass and Rock, plus some sampled voice covers called Occupy. When questioned about how they categorize themselves in terms of genre, the band haven’t really much to say: We call it N3edistan Haha. We don’t really follow certain parameters or a certain genre. If we liked a beat or a combination of strings, we’ll go along with it. I, myself, had some past experience with Rap, Metal and Electro, other members like African Music, Reggae, Drum&Bass and so on. We really just try to merge everything together and come up with something that we like.
After that ‘Eletro L9bi7‘, things settled down a bit with a clearly political track that was, and I quote: A message to every political institution out there. The track Mirage Policy (Siyassat Sarab) is a full-on rage attack on every political figure I could think of. Talking to the band, they said jokingly : Well, the only place that isn’t really concerned about this track is N3rdistan itself Hahah. but seriously, it’s a message to every political institution out there, in and outside of Morocco. We do not support any political figure or entity, as by definition, they stand by everything we fight against.
At The end of the concert, the crowd went all crazy and begged for a another track. ‘Encore, encore, encore…’ everyone screamed. the band complied and they sang The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale again. The track didn’t loose its charm one bit.
When Walead was introducing the band members, the multi instrumentalist took the mic and told us that it’s Walead’s birthday. To his surprise, no one got out of the theater till they sang happy birthday, his reaction was PRICELESS to say the least.
I did catch up with the band after the show, like I’ve mentioned before, and they happily answered everything I had to ask. Besides from the answers above, we had this mini conversation.
OM: How was the concert? did you like the crowd?
N3rdistan: It was one of the most energetic gigs we had in awhile, the crowd was insane and responsive and that’s the way we like it.
OM: Are you planning on coming back anytime soon?
N3rdistan: We hope so, we liked the crowd and the whole thing was just a bless.
OM: let’s talk about you guys for a bit, when did the band, in it’s current form, start?
N3rdistan: In 2014, we just got together and started making music. (Houda’s speaking now) I just saw a lighted room with good music coming out of it and came in Haha. I got in after the idea was already formed by Walead and here we are.
OM: Speaking of making music, what’s the typical studio day for N3rdistan?
N3rdistan: We just hang out there, brainstorming till something comes up.
OM: Do you guys have any albums or tracks coming out soon?
N3rdistan: Yeah, We have a 4 tracks EP coming out in October, and an album coming out in 2016.
Undoubtedly, The concert was one of the best I’ve been to and the band is just amazing and down to earth. Hopefully we’ll see them soon at Visa For Music.