Some 850 people showed up for the Hadag Nahash concert at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland Nov. 23. The concert ended a successful Israel fair where different programs and schools offered teenagers and college students information about Israeli institutions.
The show featured one of Israel’s most popular bands, Hadag Nahash (Snake Fish), performing for an audience made up of young children to adults — all of whom appeared to be enjoying the Israeli music.
David Klemes, 34, the band’s keyboardist, was very impressed by the impact the band had on the audience.
“The audience in the United States is very cool,” he said, “It (the audience) connects to the band through the music, and it is very cool to see the people getting excited and dancing. The more we perform here, we discover an audience, who even though Hebrew, which is not their mother tongue, is able to sing some of our songs.”
Hadag Nahash was formed 12 years ago in Jerusalem. This performance ended their current 10-show tour across the United States. It was the first time the band had performed in Pittsburgh and they seemed to enjoy every second of it.
“Hadag Nahash is an anagram of the words Nahag Hadash, which is New Driver in Hebrew,” said Klemes, “and if you live in Israel, you must put up a sign at the back of the car to indicate that you are a new driver.”
Not forgetting his hometown, lead singer Sha’anan David Streett wore a jersey from the popular “Beitar Jerusalem” soccer club. He began singing, while disco style music was played in the background, encouraging the dancing and singing crowd to keep moving.
The first high point in the concert came when the seven-member band played “To Move,” with Streett telling the audience to move their bodies As a result, some of the college-age crowd moved to the front rows and they danced throughout most of the show.
“The first thing we look at when composing our music is how we can reinvent ourselves without doing the same stuff again,” said Klemes.
Klemes said many of the songs the band sang included lyrics about the daily struggle of an Israeli through ordinary social and moral issues.
“The goal of the band was first to meet and make music,” he said. “Sha’anan, the main lyricist, had an idea to insert themes that we all felt connected to, into the music that we played.”
The band’s first single, released in 1996, was about peace and equality, and their social message has not changed since.
Another highlight came when the band left the stage at the end of the concert. The crowd began enthusiastically chanting “Here I Come” in Hebrew, a reference to the song by the same name that became popular with the release of Adam Sandler’s movie “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”
The band came back for an encore and as a final song, responded to the audience’s request by singing one of their most popular songs.
Klemes said the band’s influences reflect the large number of group members.
“Each member has his own influences; from classical music to rock and roll, jazz, punk, rap, Israeli music, Arabian music and many other genres.”
Streett said all of these genres make up what Hadag Nahash is.
“I call it modern funk, with a social awareness twist toward peace and equality” he said.
(Alon Melamed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)