Sepultura deliver a killer set at the Hard Rock Café Dubai

December 18, 2017

Brazilian superheroes Sepultura stepped back onto our fabled shores once again, this time as part of their Machine Messiah World Tour, performing at the Hard Rock Café Dubai (HRCD) on 13th December 2017. UAE-based label/promoter Metal-East Records brought them alongside their label’s cluster-bomb Svengali: a gig that brought down the roof, broke down barriers and branched out into a memorable experience.

As far as metal concerts in the country go, venues are always an integral part of the experience mainly because half of the audience usually consists of musicians with a keen ear and a dire appreciation for good sound quality. So a gig at the HRCD peaked my curiosity to see how this rock ‘n roll playground was going to be in terms of overall experience.

One of the most important aspects of the organization was the ticketing and its lack of 4 VIP sections and 2 regular ones, meaning that in this case we aren’t here to worry whether we should spend a little bit more just to be able to be a fraction of a metre closer to the stage. There were no walls between us. Nothing substantial that segregated bigger numbers of people from one another (aside from the bar.)

The only variety between tickets was the Sepulnation experience at double the standard price. That included early entry into the venue, a meet & greet opportunity, a photo with the band, a signed photo by the band, a Sepulnations VIP Laminate, a Sepultura Tour Shirt as well as Svengali’s ‘Theory ofMind.’

Musicians from abroad are usually paired with local acts to warm up the crowd, which may not always give them the proper focus and recognition that they deserve. Home-grown Svengali, known for their experimental use of metal genres and devotion to fluidity of sound, were there to get the timer ticking. And off it went.

The doors open and Svengali is there to set the place on fire. HRCD was lit. Moshpits were started left and right; beer was drank up and down. The general public seemed so positively tense in anticipation, that multiple knives could not cut that beautiful anxiety apart. And why wouldn’t we be tense?

It’s not like there are many international acts of that calibre that come on a regular basis.

It’s definitely a nice break from hearing “Jingle Bells” all over the place. Not to sound miserable like Scrooge or anything. But hearing Inner Self, Territory and Refuse/Resist live in 2017 as opposed to way back in 2009 in Europe is a nice evolution to perceive, both on a personal and on a musical level. Not to mention that the combination of bassist Paulo Xisto Pinto Jr.’s beard and snowflake decorations at HRCD definitely kept a Winter-themed vibe going.

The band members saw some of the sights around town, but the sight of the day might have been embedded somewhere in the magic of the full house combined with the iconic Hard Rock environment. The set was killer, the sound progressed to reflect overwhelming energy and the overall audio-visual elements were intense. 

Sometimes I wish people had no camera phones. Because the concept of living in the moment and enjoying that moment is lost once you see that half the crowd has their phones up once the band goes on. It isn’t even remotely close to a “we’re collectively holding up lighters” moment; rather it’s comparable to this desperate need to digitally immortalise your memory rather than being utterly immersed in the experience. Live and enjoy reality to the maximum…?

Their tight set included power-ladden songs from the latest album such as I Am The Enemy, Phantom Self, Machine Messiah, Sworn Oath, Iceberg Dances and Resistant Parasites. Sepultura’s guerrilla rebel vibe is constantly kept alive by their overture into poetic chaos, transforming into a medley of Andreas Kisser’s fast guitar licks accompanying the tribal rhythm of the band’s current drummer, the talented Eloy Casagrande.

Their current frontman, Derrick Green, has a Herculean pose on stage. He stands tall, he aims and he kills. His vocal chords reflect the diversity to which he is devoted musically, both live and on the albums. That dedication to giving it all you have and making the crowd feel the passion that you feel for your music shows on stage. He grabbed the drumsticks to do a live percussion set of Ratamahatta! which advances to a crowd-favourite Roots Bloody Roots, in turn wrapping up this fantasy evening with a bang.

 P.S. I think we need Sepultura drum circles with audience participation. 

Till next time, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to follow Apes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Review by Alisa Zykova
Photos by Joseph Celso

Gig Review: Dream Theater live in Dubai

October 08, 2017

So, was it the best concert I've ever attended, well in many ways yes. Here's a 5-step review of the historical Dream Theater concert that took place in Dubai on Oct 6th 2017, the first for these giants of progressive rock to ever come to this part of the world and also a first for me to ever witness their sound.

1. The location was easy to get to, parking was super easy and entry into the Dome was well organized too. A Rock concert indoors....Thank god! Imagine headbanging out in the open (it was 37 degrees that night) and dehydrating the crap out of yourself. This was the first time I've attended the Dome. It reminded me of the old-school era of rock concerts in Dubai (Def Leppard circa 1998 at Al Nasr Club) before the big venues opened up. There were clear separate entrances for various ticket holders, the crowd control outside was in top form and volunteers were pretty friendly, always a plus.  It was weird to have a rock show where a 'no smoking' rule was observed, but frankly it wasn't a deal breaker, it was probably for the better.

2. Me and my buddies showed up early too, around 7pm. The show was scheduled to start at 8pm and it did. The punctuality was spot on. There were still some people outside when the gig started, but that's nothing new when it comes to Concerts in Dubai. Its usual for people to take their time, get stuck in traffic, lose their way etc. Even the biggest bands on earth respect time and start when they need to.

3. The Sound & Acoustics - so immediately after the show started, I had patches of fanboys around complaining that the sound was 'not great'. Honestly, as a first time to watch DT, and considering we were right upfront where the PA was blasting in our faces, I didn't mind the sound. The only limitation was that its all contained in a Dome like venue so there was probably a lot of sound bouncing within the dome, but bad acoustics??? really, where the fuck did you think they're playing? a recording studio? - Not to mentioned these same kids ended up moshing, screaming,, jumping and pretty much enjoyed the show the rest of the night. So lets try not to sound like record producers when watching a live concert. It was DT, their own crew setup the sound and lights, if they're OK with it, so should we.

4. Food & Drinks - the arrangement of indoor bars & outdoor food was pretty well organized. Beers were priced at AED 35/- which was pretty standard compared to concerts where they're overpriced. Its smart to have the wearable payment bracelets where you'd load in money and use it instead of carrying around wads of cash, funnily enough though, the venue was charging a AED 5/- activation fee for the bracelet which was pretty silly. On the bright side, if you had any money left in the bracelet at the end of the night, you'd get it back in cash. Food was available via food trucks outside the venue which is great because I wouldn't want to smell burgers and pizza's in-doors. Moreover, the band actually took a 20min interval during the show which gave everyone plenty of time to get out, grab some grub, and get back in. Nice.

5. The ticketing sections. So this is where I think I got pretty lucky. I managed to get platinum tickets which were right up front, kinda like a VIP but just a better/closer view. Other sections were Gold, Silver and Bronze. There was a point where I felt bad for the folks in bronze as they were right at the back, but then again,the venue layout was already shown online so I'm sure they knew where they'd be. Ticket prices were very Dubai-like, so before you decide a ticket is too expensive, search out the concert ticketing plan/layout so you'll get an idea of what view you're in for.

6. This is a bonus one also a very personal one. John Petrucci, a founding member of Dream Theater, a guitar legend, an original G3 player....digs my beard. So for all those folks out there telling me to shave it off, never. The beard is here to stay. 

So, in the end, it was a memorable performance. I hear people complain about bad organisation, or bad sound, or bad whatever....well remember one thing, the company that organized this gig was not a semi-govt giant or well known giant concert organizer. It was an event done out of passion, like a dream project for Mainstage events. Its not easy to bring down heavy weight bands being a small event organizer. More-over, sound & light was handled by the DT crew themselves as I mentioned up already. So here's to Mainstage events, well done and looking forward to bigger and better shows. 

Till next time, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to follow Apes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Review: Meters OV-1 by Ashdown

August 22, 2017

I've owned a number of headphones and home speakers, in-fact I'm one of those guys who tends to try out new audio devices every once in a while, probably because I end up listening to new music a lot and pretty much everywhere I go. So it wasn't long before I came across these well-designed & amazingly engineered headphones; The Meters OV-1.

The OV-1 was created by the same brilliant minds who launched a powerhouse brand of Bass Amplifiers (Ashdown) back in 1997, used by renowned bass players like Nate Mendel, Adam Clayton, Shavo Odadjian and many more. So whats so special about these bad boys? I'll be honest, they looked 'effin rad! not only that but they sound pretty damn good, with automatic noise cancelling along with their trademark analogue VU meter behind each cup that lights up, you'll definitely turn heads. I charged mine for a few hours (via supplied USB charging cable) and its been 2 weeks running without charge on average daily usage.

If the killer looks backed by historic reputation of its parent company doesn't impress you, these well-built units may come across a bit bulky at first (each meter on the cup is powered by a built-in battery after all) but all that fades away once you realize the smooth comfort of a lightweight alloy frame as well as the Protein Leather padded cups that hardly exert any pressure thus ensuring a longer lasting experience in sound. Speaking of sound, I already mentioned their amazing noise cancelling ability, this does away with the annoying hum we tend to hear in other branded headsets. This is exactly what got me hooked on in the first place. My first few days with the OV-1 churned the thought that maybe these are good for people who're into heavy bass music because well, they sounded pretty big on the deep bass side of things, but a few days later however, you'll realize that the bass actually made sense (again, Ashdown), musically I was listening to hard rock, metal, grunge, alternative music and it sounded better than just fine. I had these on for hours thanks to the comfort factor so I ended up having a new appreciation for the warmth and punchy bass line in every track. It didn't sound hurtful to the ear at all, in-fact you could tell how much tightness and control a bass groove has over a song. You may miss the need for a crisp treble effect here and there, but the epic bass characteristics make up for that.

The OV-1's has some EQ settings that you could play around with, but I didn't bother. I had the ANC mode enabled throughout which I found quite satisfying. If you're a fan of a more disorganized effect, then by all means turn off the ANC, but I would advise against it. Having said all this, if you're the kind of listener who wants to have ultimate clarity and professional studio standard frequencies then maybe the Meters OV-1 is not your cup of tea. But if you're the average listener of music, always on the go, at the gym, at home, in Dubai Metro or walking around JLT from home to work, not to mention would love to own a unique looking pair of headphones, then don't think twice. 

You can find a pair of these in UAE at Musicians WarehouseVirgin Megastore at MOE, Dubai Mall and other branches too. They're priced at AED 1,299/- and come in 3 distinct colors. 

Till next time, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to follow Apes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

6 Beard products Men don't need

June 09, 2017

Since the dawn of man, there was the beard. Somewhere down the line, beards went through various shapes and sizes (literally), they went through different era's and stood for various statements, some religious, some philosophical, some intelligence. So it was only a matter of time before fashion joined the list. In recent times, the hipster beard is somewhat a trend, fad or fashion - now I personally think its silly and downright fucked up to treat the beard as a 'fad', but since it fell in the fashion category, numerous companies came up with uber-shitty products for naive young guys to try out so they can start keeping a beard. 

Now I'm not talking about beard oils, balms, wax etc. Those are actually good. I'm talking about the ones which coerce guys into spending their well earned money on products that are bogus, not needed and simply don't work. So here's a list of what I personally think the world of beards can live without. 

Beard Bibs

This disastrous monstrosity came with a AED 70/- price tag. I mean seriously?! I get that hair follicles find their way onto the bathroom floor or sink but do you really need to spend this much to make sure you collect your trimmed hair? You can do the same using any piece of cloth and lay it down or even a piece of cardboard. Moreover, the effort of sticking it onto the mirror & around your neck limits (and annoys) moving your head while trimming. Be a man and clean up after your mess if you need to or better yet, visit the local barber for a much better trim, it'll be more worth it. Lastly, even if you have a so-called 'beard bib' where do you intend to dust it off without it falling around?

Beard Shaper

Any product which claims to help you create the right shape by sticking it onto your face and trimming around is basically missing the point. I mean sure, of course you want your mane to look perfectly crafted, neat and awesome, but thats what barbers are for, who do it freehand. When you’re holding something up to your face that looks like it’s from a Spirograph kit, or stolen off an architect’s drafting table, you’ve lost the point. And it shouldn’t cost AED 89/-

Beard Pin

Who ever thought that a Mans beard needs to have jewelry to look good simply didn't understand the concept of growing a beard. There are plenty of beard styles out there for you to shape and try, the goatee, the full blown mountaineer, the french cut, the pirate and so many more, having to stick a pin in the middle (which'll probably get lost in the beard leaving it invisible) is just plain silly. You don't need it. Shape the beard and show off your style without sticking jewelry in it. If you really want to include accessories then grow a bigger beard and use a viking still metal tie, now that would be bad ass! 

Beard Muffler

Why? also, that's a woman. 

Beard Growth Formula

So the sound of this makes it feels like its Viagra for the face. I mean, I understand that some dudes struggle with patchy beards and slow growth due to genetics but if we're going to be proud of our manes then at-least let it grow naturally. These products tie into the whole non-natural concept of manliness. Imagine if you're one of those steroid popping kinda guys, then there's not much to be proud of. If you're looking for fast results then STOP READING THIS BLOG! I strongly suggest sticking with natural beard balms and oils that help in moisturizing the skin beneath and maintain facial hair, thats more than good enough. On the later side, eat healthy and workout and give your mane time to grow. 

Stach' Guard

The Stache guard. I like to drink. I enjoy a good whisky. If its summer, crack open a cold one. I never felt the need to have a stache guard. I mean yes, my stache gets wet every time I'm sipping a drink out of a glass, but it doesn't stream down my face, unless I force more drink than I can handle. I sip and enjoy. Worst case, after having milk, i simply wipe it off. This is a nice lil' novelty but doesn't really serve its purpose well. If you really need one, try finding the original source of this product, a natural tea cup/mug with a ceramic stopper built in. These were used in the early days for the same purpose, easy to store and wash too. 

Till next time, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to followApes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Interview with a Luthier - Howlin' Rooster Guitars & Such

May 27, 2017

I recently dug out an old American Telecaster, I never played it much ever since I got it, so decided to give it a go. As expected, I knew it was a bit out of shape so decided to drop by at Basil's workshop. Something I've been meaning to do for a while, but never did only because it felt like it was two continents away (Sharjah, nuff said). I finally took the time and dropped in at Howlin' Rooster Guitars and such - first off, I was completely mind blown at how far Basil had come with his passion as a luthier. Second, it really didn't seem that far once I got there. 

Anyway, I dropped off the tele and returned after a week or so, the axe sounded a lot better than before so I was quite pleased. However, Basil's dedication and passion reminded me of how I go about my music, we connected on a level of perseverance. I realized I'm now friends with someone who is working his way to be a master luthier, let alone the only one I know in UAE. For this reason I decided to interview Basil, one musician to another, for the first Mastery Blog Post. Here it is. 

A&M: In few words, tell us about yourself. 

BA: My name is Basil, I love the music that I love and everything surrounding it, I guess that’s my passion. All the other passions stemmed from this one.

A&M: Take us back in time, when it all began.

BA: Howlin' Rooster started when I got back from studying in Canada. That was is 2013. I started working at the factory with my family and I found an opportunity, being surrounded by big tools, machinery and scrap material. I quickly got to work, reigniting a childhood passion of mine, building things. I started with a few cigar box guitars and took it from there. 

A&M: Did you struggle? Is yes, what was the hard part?

BA: Sure, I guess there were struggles but I never felt like I was struggling to do anything. I just love doing this work and whatever challenges came, I always managed to enjoy it. It terms of challenges, I would say sourcing tools and materials was the most difficult. People don’t make guitars here and it’s impossible to source the majority of what I need locally. That being said, it has led me to make some awesome contacts, locally and internationally, and come up with great solutions. I think that contact base is the wealth of my work.

"Sourcing tools and materials was the most difficult" - Basil

A&M: How did you get into the luthier business? 

BA: Reading books and watching YouTube videos. I started with the videos, checked out all the guitar factory tours, and then started watching more specific videos on guitar building as I needed. After that I bought a few books and then some more. Most of the learning came from actually building though.Later on I did an apprenticeship in Canada and now I learn from everywhere, everyday.

Proudly displayed certificate at the Howlin' Rooster workshop

A&M: A cigar box guitar and a normal one, whats the difference?

Essentially the concept is the same. The box is the body of the guitar. The main difference is the tone and the look. The feel is the most controllable aspect. You can build them rough and dirty or silky smooth. 

A&M: Where do you source raw materials?

BA: It’s been changing. When I started, everything was salvaged. Wood came from old demolished buildings, abandoned construction sites, beaches, trash cans, anywhere really. I always had my eyes open for something whenever I was driving and if the piece was too big; I’d make a mental note of the spot and come back with a pickup truck. The cigar boxes came from the cigar shops, free of charge. They would have thrown them otherwise. Recently, I started buying woods too. Eventually as your work gets better, you will see the limitations of salvaged woods in some areas of guitar construction. Still, using salvaged wood is very important to me and I will always incorporate it into a guitar. It is the artwork on my guitars. 

This Cigar Box guitar is made from salvaged wood.

A&M: How many types of guitars do you make? Are they expensive?

BA: I make 3 types of stringed instruments, Box type stringed instruments which can use a cigar box or some other kind of resonating container, solid wood acoustic guitars, and recently I started making solid body electrics too. I also make a bunch of accessories for them, like bottle neck slides, guitar straps made from old seat belts and cigar box amplifiers. Prices range from 50 AED – 10,000 AED. I also do repairs. 

Slides made from used beer bottles.

Various Cigar Box Guitars.

Handmade Micro Guitar Amps

A&M: Are customers hard to deal with? Tell us a story.

BA: Some are, yes. When I was making instruments in my earlier days, I was selling them for a lot cheaper than they are now. They attracted customers who were buying them as works of art to hang on the wall instead of playing them. Off course, I built them to perform and that was and is what drives me when I build them. A lot of customers wouldn’t understand the effort that went into that since they weren’t musicians and didn’t intend on playing them. They would try to haggle and that was hurtful. Anyways it made me commit to making the best instruments that I could, and then the customer base changed and started to include a lot more musicians, which are more understanding. Off course, the musician is a breed onto himself, and they too can be very difficult.

A&M: How do people find you? 

BA: Through my links Official Website Instagram Facebook 

Hope you learnt something here, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to follow Apes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter!

How to Train like a Boss in Ramadan

May 26, 2017

There's nothing new about this topic. Every year around the holy month all my health conscious bros start talking about how they'll 'Detox' for a month and 'get fit'.I got news fellas, it doesn't work that way. Just because you quit your alcohol intake and fast during the day doesn't mean you'll be fit.

You see, while Ramadan is a month of fasting and charity, share, care & family - fitness is hardly ever the top priority. Most of us either have really heavy suhoors (early morning pre-Fajr meals) or just a glass of water - then lazy around all day OR over exert your body - then hog like a beast for iftar OR an early dinner ending it all of with a unconscious sleep pattern OR a shisha session that goes on till early morning hours. Sound familiar? 

The thing is, you can still eat as much, sleep in and hang out late night. All you need to do is plan your regime. We all know the usual routine - morning suhoor, working hours, rest, pray, iftar and so on. PLANNING IS KEY. The next few steps will help you in in maximizing your spiritual self this month by staying sharp, focused and active. 

Firstly, remember - when you're fasting your body is dehydrated but its less dehydration compared to an intense workout. So its vital that your workout should happen before or after you begin to fast. This way you can hydrate your body without tiring yourself and risking fatigue. Always remember, when you're not fasting - drink loads of water

Personally, I think the best time to train is later at night, around 9:30-10pm. By this time you're well hydrated from Iftar, the food you ate is digested and you can focus on a good workout just in time to rest for the night. A 30-min workout would be good at this time. But if you're planning on doing some Cardio, then I suggest a 30-min run prior to Suhoor, early morning around 3:30-4am (yep, true story). If you CAN pull this off then the best thing to do is get up and drink plenty of water with a cup of coffee, green tea, or oolong tea, wait 30 minutes and perform 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio work like a brisk walk. If you CAN'T, then the next best time to do cardio is approximately 30-45 minutes after a "light" iftar. Keep in mind a good sprint can work really well, that's running crazy fast for 30 seconds and walking for 1 min. This cycle is perfect for a cardio routine in Ramadan. 

When it comes to weights, keep it light. Firstly, if you're going to get into weight lifting remember to be very well hydrated. I can't stress this enough especially in Dubai's heat and Ramadan combined. Try and avoid full body weight training, this takes more time and keeps you exhausted longer. Instead, combine your cardio with 4-6 sets of each body part; 1 day chest, next day legs, next day shoulders, next day back - this way you stress your body less, have a great weight session and feel active throughout the day. 

So now that you've got a good idea for a Ramadan workout, whats the most important part? your before and after fasting mealsI've done the below in the shortest way possible. Will personally be trying to follow a nutritious diet, eating the right foods instead of the fried usual heavy foods. 

Also note that these meals depend and vary on your own body mass index, so adjust it accordingly. Feel free to look up various meal plans online. 

  • Eat 2-6 egg whites (with one yolk) 
  • One bowl of plain oatmeal w/cinnamon, raisins and a banana
  • 1 teaspoon all-natural peanut butter or olive oil or flax seed oil 
  • Plenty of water (16-24 oz.)
  • Fruits - Orange/Apple/Grapes/Banana/Kiwi/Watermelon - whatever you can get your hands on
  • Chicken breast - roasted, grilled, boiled. 
  • Fish - Salmon works great for me, over-roasted really slow with lemon and herbs. 
  • One Bowl of brown rice
  • 3 Dates and a Nutrition Shake 
  • Plenty of water
  • Arabic Harees (a porridge of sorts, coarsely ground wheat with meat)
  • Grilled Fish
  • Plenty of Fruits or Salad
  • Grilled Chicken or Fish
  • Salad
  • Jacket Potato
There you have it Gentlemen, you can find various other meal plans online, create your own - the idea of this blog article is to get you motivated in the right direction. I'll do a post Ramadan training blog after 30 days and share my personal results too. 

There's no excuse, feel free to share this with your alpha ladies too, they may be able to guide you better. #noexcuses

Finally, to finish off, The Holy Month of Ramadan has a lot to do with charity, so while you're taking care of yourself and your body, do the same for others. Donate some food, clothing and some earnings if you can to help others in need. It only makes you more of a Man.

Hope you learnt something here, If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment and don't forget to follow Apes and Men on FacebookInstagram and Twitter!

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