When most of the rock scene in the Middle East died out in the past couple of years, it gracefully rose in Dubai, U.A.E.
Underground local bands played in different venues all over Dubai, then came the event of the year! Dubai Rock Festival hit the stage with a smoking hot line up. Thanks to the only organizer, Fawaz Storm, also known as DJ Storm, who made every rocker’s and metalhead’s dreams come true on the 7th of June 2013 at the World Trade Center Arena.


The first band to go on stage was Anuryzm; a killer band located in the U.A.E. They had a powerful start with tracks of their first album “Worm’s Eye View”. I think there wasn’t a better band to start this concert and set the mood for the audience. However, the only negative thing was the sound system; it wasn’t as good as would normally be expected of a festival of this proportion.


The second band to go on stage was the French Power Metal band Nightmare. Unfortunately, they were pretty unknown to most of the people attending, but oh my! They got everyone singing and screaming their lungs out. Completely energetic despite their age, and their set was insane. Their music was a mix of Thrash, Heavy and even bits of Symphonic. The vocalist for everyone’s surprise was a copy of Dio! He looked and sounded very much like him! They ended fantastically with the masterpiece Heaven and Hell and you could only imagine how the audience reacted.


Myrath was next, a Tunisian band who nailed it on stage! I hadn’t heard them before except for CDs but they mastered it. The awesome guitar riffs mingled with oriental keyboards and Zaher Zorgati’s strong vocals complimented the music very well. He even put on a small belly dance show from our Arabian heritage! They played tracks from their albums “Desert Call” and “Tales of the Sand”. I really enjoyed them and apparently everyone loved their Middle Eastern taste they had in the air. I highly recommend you’d check this band if you didn’t!

The fourth band on the list was the band everyone was waiting for; Dark Tranquility. Okay, forget everything you may have heard about them, it’s nothing compared to hearing them live! They are highly spirited and so much fun to watch. The audience was packed with power, and their enthusiastic vibe went straight to the band. Mikael Stanne the vocalist was shocked with the amount of energy and admitted he was taken by surprise from the audience interaction. I’d have to give a shout out to the light system on that particalur band; he used lots of colors on the screen behind them which gave them a hint of a psychedelic element. Great job!

blankThe epic band, the band that I was personally waiting for Epica! They started with an instrumental but everyone was screaming and jumping till I could literally feel the ground shaking beneath me. When Simone Simones walked the stage, she received a huge amount of applause. She warmed our ears with her soprano vocals and in no time had the whole crowd singing along. Simone and only Simone could sing so good, not to mention head-bang while pregnant!

The band performed their classic “Cry for the Moon” and hands down, best performance in the entire night, from both the band and the audience. Simone even had the crowd sing along and wave their hands. You can easily see the harmony between the band members; they even synchronized their head-banging with their long hair! They made my entire year just seeing them live!

blankFinally was the main headliner, the reason everyone was waiting till after midnight, the legendary master Yngwie Malmsteen. During the break after Epica they selected a random ticket number to win a Fender guitar signed by Malmsteen! And guess what? The winner wasn’t there to claim his prize! And yes, there were hundreds of other young men who wanted to be in his shoes.

blankAfter a very long wait, and long minutes of sound check in the dark, the lights came on revealing tens of amplifiers stacked and Malmsteen’s band started performing. I have to admit they sounded incredibly good. The whole band was on fire; the strong beat of the bass harmonized with the keyboardist, and the vocalist proved his mastery. All until Yngwie came running to the stage, spinning the guitar around his body, and even throwing it a few inches in the air – yes, our hearts skipped a beat – everyone was cheering, clapping, and WOWing his name. But as he went further with his music, an idea hit me; he doesn’t care how plays, he obviously knows he’s the master. He’s so busy shredding, and it really got on my nerves.

blankYou could feel it in the audience, too. Everyone was squeezing themselves to get a better place to watch him, 20 minutes later all the hype fell and many people left the arena! Midway through, the place was half empty and those who remained were the die-hard fans.

Why I didn’t like Malmsteen’s set was how he abused improvised shredding. The guitars were too loud and it almost killed everyone’s ears listening to high pitched shredding for over an hour. On the other hand, many guitarists were on cloud 9 seeing their idol playing and throwing handful of guitar picks between every other track.

Before I left, I met with DJ Storm and asked him how felt about the day, to which he shared: “I expected full support and dedication from those who used to join the Rock Festival every year. The crowd was great this year and I hope to have them back again in Dubai Rock Festival 2014 with their friends and friends of friends! I would like to thank everyone for showing up and making it a night to remember, this show was for you and you made it big.”

The whole show was terrific, although I expected more people to show up but we’re only hoping more success and attendees for DRF 2014!