This past Saturday, I went to a Hoba Hoba Spirit concert at the Mohammed V Sports Complex in Casablanca. The show was a free concert, but only for girls, 25 years old and under.
Around one o’clock, I arrived with Adil at the arena to help set up his equipment. After a brief, but great sounding, sound-check, everyone in the band, myself and few other members of the Hoba entourage, went out for lunch. A few hours later, we returned to an arena packed with about 2,500 screaming girls.
Without a doubt, attending this concert was one of the most profound cultural experiences I have ever had, as, simply put, I have never seen so many hysterical girls in my life! The truth is that young girls in Moroccan society have a very limited social outlet. Many women are veiled; many are not – in no way is Morocco a “repressive” society; in fact, it is probably the most liberal Muslim country in the world. Nevertheless, it is clear that young women have much fewer opportunities to socialize than young men do.
The connection the band had with the (all female) audience was unprecedented: these girls were so absorbed by the music that many of them, literally, passed out. I lost count of the number of girls that were carried (while unconscious) to the medics in need of oxygen. It was almost as if I went to a time warp and was watching a Beatles concert from the early 1960s.
While the sound quality of the show left much to the imagination (arenas are never conducive for music performances), the dynamic between Hoba Hoba Spirit and the crowd made for a truly memorable experience. I am sure there are many factors as to why these young girls are able to identify with Hoba’s music that I, as an American male, will never truly understand. Yet, it was very apparent that, through the music, the band was able to form a special bond with the audience.
After the two-hour setlist was finished, I met up with the band backstage. An hour or so later, we started our exit out of the arena. Quite expectedly, there were throngs of girls waiting for autographs and pictures. It took some time to actually make it out of the venue; and when we finally did, we were greeted by more fans on the streets!
Here are some assorted pictures from the show and a video from the sound check. As it was a “ladies only” concert, I felt very awkward taking photographs, so I had a (female) Moroccan friend use my camera. So thank you, Myriam, for helping me out! Also, a huge thanks to every one in Hoba Hoba Spirit – Adil, Reda, Othmane, Anouar, Saad, and everyone else in their management crew.
Lastly, check out http://www.blogger.com/www.hobahobaspirit.comwhen you get a chance. Make sure to brush on your French first, though!
The medics were as necessary as the microphones
Not all the seats were filled, but the floor was packed.
Anouar and Reda
Adil sets up his kit.