The truth is, when CK asked me if I wanted to go to the Fools of Prophecy concert at the Knitting Factory,
I said “What? And leave the Upper West Side for a few hours? But how will it survive?” I had no idea where the night would take me. (Quite literally. I knew I had to get off the train at Franklin, but beyond that, who knew for certain?)
Due to various technical transportational difficulties, my friend and I “decided” to wander the downtown area in the wrong direction for several minutes in order to work up enough sweat so we’d be able to fit in with the rest of the Foolers. Good to get that blood moving, anyway. Eventually, we arrived nearly a half hour after we were supposed to get there. I knew the concert was sold out so I was a little agitated. But lo and behold, in the great tradition of Jews and Israelis, the concert was nowhere near ready to start. My friend correctly noted that Jewish standard time means a half hour late, and Israeli standard time is a half hour beyond that. Let the sweating begin! Or continue…
OK, so it was hot. More sweating. More waiting. More Israelis in less clothing poured through the front doors. I was standing in back of a guy with the most gorgeous, long, thick, black taltalim (curls)…that smelled like they were completely made of marijuana.
FOJ (Friend of Jewlicious) Eitan Schwartz, my friend’s cousin/Israel’s “Ambassador” (who represents Israel at events all over the country) and his lovely chaverah with a beautiful name (Reyut, meaning friendship), were there to greet us in English and in Hebrew, and welcome us to the concert, which was co-sponsored by Israel At Heart.
The crowd seemed to be a mix: nicotine-scented Israeli men confused by the fact that the band scheduled to play was the “Fools of Prophecy,” when they had clearly bought tickets for “Shotei Hanevuah” (Fools of Prophecy in Hebrew), and barely dressed Jewish college coeds who hadn’t heard of the Fools before but were out at a concert for fun and possibly to find a nice tall Israeli man to explain the lyrics to them. There was also one random modern-looking yeshivish guy with a kippah bouncing around like Happy (Sweaty Jewish) Fun Ball. (“Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”)
The Fools’ sound was varied, and hard to really explain: kind of like Depeche Mode meets Yes meets Bob Marley meets Ethnix meets hora. There was certainly reggae influence (even reflected in the MANY Red Stripe drinkers in the hizzie), and there was a global-leaning-toward-Middle-Eastern rhythm. The music was really loud, and the bass was overpowering, which is a shame, given the fact that these guys have amazing voices, and I would have liked to have been able to hear them better. (I guess I’ll have to buy the album…) I said that the Fools reminded me a little of the Dave Matthews Band, but my friend–a musician himself–thought their technical musical skills were kind of basic and said that there was a vast difference in ability between them and Dave Matthews. He also wished there had been more audience interaction and explanation of the messages, since about half of the audience were clearly clueless about anything beyond the rhythm, but admitted that the Fools’ strong vocal lines carried the songs.
I needn’t have worried about how I’d feel about a concert during the nine days; I left “unpainted corners” wherever I went. Firstly, I didn’t listen to their music ahead of time, because I knew that would enhance my enjoyment. Secondly, nearly everything we did was zecher lemikdash (in memory of the destroyed temple):
the desert downtown because we refused to ask for directions
*Spending time by the waters of
Babylon Battery Park (it wasn’t THAT far away)
*Combating a mild sense of panic that we’d be crushed where we stood by falling debris of the Temple (of Rock)
*Plus, did I mention how uncomfortably hot it was?
We left a little on the early side, to let the other kids have their fun. After sweating inside, the balmy night air seemed a relief. And even the sweltering subway platform wasn’t all that bad. We met up with two young women who had been at the concert and I quizzed them on the train. Gabrielle, a student at SUNY Purchase, heard about the concert from her Israeli Hillel Directors and brought her friend Tamar, a student at SUNY Buffalo. Gabrielle, who is half-Israeli, said she’s been to Israel a number of times, including a trip with birthright, and noted that Americans have an idea of what Israel is like only from the news. It was important, she said, for people to understand what Israelis do every day, and the way they look at things, pointing to the Fools as a group that “really represents Israel.” (Sounds like Israel at Heart is doing a good job…)
Thanks to Eitan and Israel at Heart for the hookup. The Fools are gigging at the Staten Island Yankees’ Jewish Heritage Day on August 15, so go and check ’em out.
I’ll play you out with some lyrics (from their website, one typo edited):
This generation demands peace in the nations
Generation demands peace,
Generation demands peace in the nations all night long,
Generation demands peace in the nations
And light upon the Middle East
Generation demands peace in the nation all night long
Beneath the pomegranate tree I can hear an ancient melody
It calls me back to where I was before I came
And so I glide on two thousand years of history
As silent voices keep repeating my name
Then again I open my eyes into the in to the future
On the horizon of the holy land
It’s time we stand up and rise above the foolish lies
That keeps preventing us from entering the paradise
The divine is absolute power
But no religion is stronger than the Divine
Loving god will only gives us better understanding
I believe the word is coming through.