Adonis band to bring music, poetry and a scent of Lebanon's small-town to Egypt

Hatem El Salem, Sunday 25 Sep 2016

The four-member Lebanese band Adonis will perform in Cairo this week

Adonis band
Adonis line-up includes Anthony Khoury (vocals & keys), Joey Abou Jawdeh (guitar), Gio Fikany (bass guitar), and Nicola Hakim (drums). (Photo: Fragment from promotional material, courtesy of El-Genaina Theatre)

The Lebanese band Adonis, with its puzzling name and unique sound, has entertained fans across Lebanon and the Arab world, and will be bringing to Cairo the stories and sounds of Lebanon in a performance scheduled for 28 September at El-Geneina Theatre in Al-Azhar Park.

The four-member pop/rock band is a rather new formation within Lebanon’s independent music scene, drawing musical inspiration from Lebanese and Arabic music.

The history of the band goes back to the passion for music of best friends Anthony Khoury and Joey Abu Jawdeh in 2011, when they were studying architecture at the American University in Beirut. The pair was later joined by two other friends, GioFikany and Nicola Hakim.

The band’s enigmatic name has left many asking where it from and what it means.

Khoury, the band’s lead singer, says the name means different things to the band as they continue to grow over the years. The name Adonis comes from Greek mythology, referring to Aphrodite’s love. 

It is also the name of the town north of Beirut where Khoury grew up. On the other hand, Khoury also says that the band enjoys the poetic nature of the name, which was a penname for Syrian poet Ali Saeed Esber, also known as Adunis.

The name Adonis was decided on after the release of band’s first song titled Stouh Adonis (Adonis’ Rooftops), where the band talks about the Lebanese town.

“The song grew and [became] a big success when we launched it,” Khoury said to Ahram Online in a Skype interview.

“We found the concept fascinating [and] very poetic; Adonis represents the god of beauty [in Ancient Greek mythology]. It was a very mythological and romantic [connection] between the town that is very industrial and not related to anything poetic. It was a very interesting contradiction to build on.”

Since Stouh Adonis, the band has released two albums, Daw Al-Baladiyyi (Light of the Street, 2011) and Men Shou Bteshki Beirut (What Is There to Complain About, Beirut?, 2013), with a third album to roll out this year.

Adonis touches in their repertoire on a very wide range of themes, never spelling out the messages they try to convey through their music. However, there is always an underlying story they try to tell or point to through an anecdote or other story, leaving the interpretation up to the audience.

Anthony said the band’s music is largely based on issues going on around them or personal stories they hear from friends or others, with these being sources of inspiration for their music and lyrics.

“In [the song] Men Shou Bteshki Beirut, for example, we sing about emigration because a lot of youth are emigrating and trying to find a better future for themselves abroad. [The song] talks about a love story... This song is not bound by time. At any point listeners can listen to the song and relate to it,” Khoury says.

Since the band’s beginning in 2011 and the release of their two albums, Adonis’ fan base has grown significantly in Lebanon and beyond. The band’s identity has been challenged as it navigates the music industry and its growing success.

“We’re stubborn; we’re trying to maintain our sound,” Khoury says regarding their persistence on maintaining their identity as a band. “The band is growing slowly but surely, and we aren’t in a rush. People around us want to put you in specific frames and it is difficult to get out of that.”

Although the band has hit the ground running with three album releases in almost five years, Khoury sees that Adonis still has room to grow.

“In every musician’s career there is a point where you go from someone with a limited audience to being a household name; [that] is the breaking point – the hit. That song hasn’t come out for us. But keep in mind that you’ll get there sometime, and it can come in 20 years [or] it can happen all of a sudden. As we wait for that hit, we’re really trying to make the best out of everything.”

Adonis performed in Egypt back in 2013 at the Cairo Jazz Festival.

"Egypt is a place that continues to be a meeting point for Arabic music and Arabic art despite social differences in the Arab world,” Khoury says, adding that the band is excited to meet and perhaps collaborate with other musicians during their visit to Cairo.

Adonis also hopes that their alternative sound and lyrics that many can relate to will carry messages of love, life experiences, openness and tolerance.

Wednesday 28 September, 8pm
El-Genaina Theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, El-Darassa, Cairo

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