Spectres in Israel: A storm in Tel Aviv

Photos shot on 35mm by Adrian Dutt. 

Travelling to the middle east, Israel in particular, had never crossed my, or anyone else in Spectres’ minds. I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s the stream of news articles and pieces that describe it as dangerous, depict it as war torn or just the horror stories of genocide that kind of put me off.

It’s sad to think how misinformed we can be by the mainstream news. When we were offered a show in Tel Aviv, Israel, by a group of music fans and bookers who call themselves the ‘Shoegazers of Tel Aviv’ it was perhaps the first time we had an adult conversation as a band. We discussed the dangers, the political problems, and also the ramifications of being a western band going to play there. We couldn’t decide the best plan of action, so we emailed someone who had cancelled a high profile show in Israel before, Henry Rollins. We had attended a talk of his which had people protesting outside, asking him to boycott future shows in Tel Aviv. I still find it ridiculous that he is a fan of our band, let alone that we can email him out of the blue, and he’ll give us some advice. He quite rightly told us that we shouldn’t deny people’s exposure to the arts and music, just because we disagree with a government, these are people trying to make a difference so we need to recognise that and join together to help bring music, art and culture to everyone. We are a tiny blip of a band, and to be asked to travel and play in this amazing country was an opportunity we shouldn’t hastily deny. So we said yes, even though our mums said no.

We shouldn’t deny people’s exposure to the arts, just because we disagree with a government.

Fast forward to this week, and we were on a plane after being awake for 24 hours and circling over the mountains of Jerusalem in the early morning sun. We landed into an airport just outside Tel Aviv at around midday and went through the normal routine of waiting to see if our guitars had made it safely, a few new dents and scratches come everytime. Security entering the country was tight as expected, myself and Andy Drums were taken to one side and grilled about why we were here, lesson one for me, always have my itinerary with me, I had no idea where we were staying or where we were playing, luckily Andy had it and we had our visas so the big scary men let us go. It’s always exciting coming into the arrivals part of an airport and having someone waiting for you with a sign, I managed to run ahead and sneak a picture of him before he realised who we were, he was pretty engrossed in his iphone so he didn’t notice me popping off a couple with my bright white toy camera.

That was the start of my photo-diary for our trip, which you can see in full at the bottom. Tel Aviv is a vibrant and beautiful city, which just so happened to be having it’s coldest and stormiest three days in a long time. Everyone told us we had brought the weather with us, but we were too busy getting our shorts on and enjoying some heat to listen. Their cold is our lukewarm. It was pretty apocalyptic at times, ferocious winds battered us and turned the sea into an explosive soup of waves and froth, that didn’t stop us going to the beach and jumping over their fallen volleyball nets though. Three english idiots finding fun in the mundane despite being in a city of so much history. We did experience some biblical rain storms which Joe really enjoyed, he had to fashion some plastic bag socks to try and keep his feet dry, but he failed dramatically. Still he looked cool though, just look at that photo!

I spent a day wandering around on my own exploring which is where most of the photos come from. I loved the juxtaposition of the architecture, broken and disintegrating built tightly next to new and elaborate. The high rise structures tower over claustrophobic mazes where everything looks the same at first. The affluent edge of the city by the beach is full of huge brightly coloured angular new builds, shimmering glass sheets that reflect the sun, paint schemes that get the mouth salivating and modern monsters still being constructed.

The gig venue itself, Ozen Bar, was a home from homes. A fantastic dark cave on top of a beautiful record shop, the kind I dream of. They even had a first press copy of ‘Bring It On’ , Gomez’s debut which got me through my first year of art school, I already regret leaving it there. The green room was a small cinema, the sound engineers were incredible and didn’t tell us to turn down once. Even our initial eye roll at having to use a marshall amp (we are noise snobs) was forgotten by the time sound check was finished. The show was great and the people were fantastic. The best part of being in a band is travelling to new special places and meeting like minded people. The opening band, ‘Laila’ , were a perfect choice, a dark and brooding two piece that despite only having drums and one guitar, managed to make a sprawling and sinister big sound. Well worth checking them out here.

I’m blathering on, so I’ll wrap it up now. We highly recommend paying Tel Aviv a visit, and go and watch a show whilst you’re out there. It’s an amazing place. Huge thanks to Yael, Roy and her brother for bringing us over, feeding us and making us feel very welcome. All the photos below were taken on 35mm film, using a mini Diana for the square format shots, and a classic boots disposable for the others. Oh and a little tip for when you try and leave Israel, if they ask you what the origin of a name is at the security desk, what they actually mean is, where were you born, don’t make the mistake I did…

Check out ‘Dissolve’ right here:

1 Comment

  1. Wonderful article and great words!! Thank you SO much for blowing our minds and our ears!! come again soon, when the sun shine ^_^

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