L’Boulevard Festival is an annual Rock/Metal, World/Fusion and Rap/Hip Hop” festival held in Morocco since 1999. The festival is noted for its diversity across these genres. Founded in 1999 by Mohamed Merhari Alias ‘Momo’ and Hicham Bahou, L’ Boulevard’s essential goal was to sanctify contemporary art and supply a stage for young artists to unleash their creativity. It is the premier Contemporary music festival in Morocco.
There was over thousands of attendees, it felt like a casual yet a unique weekend party which included many activities as well as many places to eat. It was great to see most of the bands around the stadium all week as well as plenty of opportunities to chat with different people. Months ago we lost one of the most famous technicians and sons of the L’Boulevard festival, Said Ghaffouli. Since 2008, he did not only contribute nationally, but he also gave this festival an aesthetic and a global dimension. Said Ghaffouli was very active and dynamic. He was keeping an eye on all the things related to the technical aspects of the festival, despite the long hours of hard work. He was passionate towards his L’Boulevard profession. I had a conversation with him on many occasions; he was one of the best technicians in Morocco, and everyone in this field was motivated by him.
The festival was held from September 13th to September the 22nd. Over the years, it became one of the biggest Festivals in the Middle East, especially in North Africa. L’Boulevard Festival has become a destination for Hard rock/Metal fans, as well as other genres. The festival witnessed many shareholders and sponsors’ presence from Morocco and abroad, as well as an honorable presence of the Moroccan and international media covering this artistic and cultural event. More than 30,000 people came to the festival to watch various Metal acts that took part. This year’s edition was headlined by the iconic Carcass.
Carcass was formed in Liverpool in 1985 by the guitarist Bill Steer (Napalm Death) and drummer Ken Owen. In 1987 Jeff Walker (formerly Electro Hippies) joined the band. The group released “Reek of Putrefaction” in the following year. The record is considered one of Grind’s earliest albums, such as Napalm Death’s “Scum”. But first and foremost, “Reek of Putrefaction” is Grind’s first album to sound gore, moving away from its Punk / Hardcore roots. The band then released the album “Symphonies of Sickness,” which is Goregrind’s very first album. A real slap in the underground by its “Extreme Violence” (replace you in 1988). The album creates on its own a new branch of Grindcore represented in the Goregrind. It is following this record that will appear the first Carcass Clones: groups playing in the style of Carcass to try to approach their sound.
The festival takes place on two stages: First the “TREMPLIN,” organized from September 13th till September 15th. Nineteen artists and bands playing different genres; “Hip Hop, Metal / Rock and Fusion bands”. They have participated to compete for the two prizes. The “1st prize which was 10,000 DHS went to Torpedo while the 2nd prize which was 5,000 DHS went to Deep Scar. Then, the second part of the festival was held between September 20th till September 22nd at the RUC stadium in Casablanca where the great names of the Rock / Metal, Electro and Fusion scenes such as Carcass, Acyl, Into The Evernight, Moroccan Tribute to Lamb of God, Slave To Sirens, Deep Scar, Torpedo, Hassan Boussou, Martha Da’ro, Filastine & Nova, and Dubioza Kolektiv.
One of the most remarkable things in the festival was the live broadcast of festival parties on the Internet and especially on the website of the festival. This year there was an initiative by some young artists from Morocco, Moroccan Tribute to Lamb of God. It is a great musical project with the Moroccan rising artists; Ashraf El Mellouki (Suicide Machine), Wassim Ahenjir (Thillogy), and Hold Hreath members: Houssam Elhachemy, Mehdi Salmane and Khalid Karim. This tribute was very responsive to audiences from different ages as well as from different nationalities.
Into the Evernight after winning the 15th edition prize in 2014, The band members showed how professional and brilliant they are. They were able to interact with the audience. During the festival, Into The Evernight played many known tracks to their fans and audience, as well as new single entitled “Stamps” The band’s fans are waiting for the new EP releasing soon, The Nighterz is back.
Slave to Sirens (Thrash/Death Metal) founded in 2016; is considered the first band in Lebanon which consists of female artists only. The band consists of five members; Alma Doumani (Bass), Maya S. Khairallah (Vocals), Tatyana Boughaba (Drums), Lilas Mayassi (Rhythmic Guitar) and Shery Bechara (Lead Guitar). They struggled for a while to have a place among the other active bands in Lebanon. After participating in the finals of the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle in Lebanon in 2018, Slave to Sirens proved their brilliance and success as competitors to other bands.
The band had a good resonance within the world of Arab and international Metal scene. They also participated abroad in many other international acts as: Glastonbury Festival, Wacken Open Air 2019 and L’Boulevard Festival. Slave to Sirens succeeded to introduce an unforgettable performance in Morocco. They played some tracks from their latest EP “Terminal Leeches” (2018). I’m so proud of this band, I think they will have a great and wonderful future.
I managed to talk with Tatyana Boughaba, Slave to Sirens drummer. I asked Tatyana about her opinion in the interaction of the audience, she replied “The audience’s interaction was impressive, something I didn’t expect. You guys have one of the best audiences we ever played for!” Then, I asked her about the band’s experience at the Wacken Open Air. “Well I personally wasn’t there with my band, but it was a great experience for them. First of all playing in Wacken is a good achievement for the band considering it being the biggest metal fest in the world, second, as an experience, it’s hard sometimes to play in front of thousands of people if you’re not used to it, so it was definitely beneficial from this point,” she expressed.
Regarding my question about the band’s “Terminal Leeches” EP, Boughaba explained, “Well we started writing our music, and we saw people who were extremely excited to hear it, so instead of waiting to write a full length album, we decided to give a small sneak peck for the fans, releasing an EP was the perfect solution before going full on into an album.”
After that Tatyana told me her opinion about the other bands in general. She replied, “Even though I couldn’t watch all of the bands considering the interviews we had before and after the show, but I could hear their music, and honestly I was extremely impressed with the talents you guys have. The Lamb of God tribute band sounded exactly like The Lamb of God, and the drummer did not disappoint me, Into The Evernight were great as well, and the audience was spectacular. So over all, chapeau!” Finally, I asked her about their new future plans. She answered, “No tours are planned for now, we are focusing on finishing our album in order to have new material to tour with. Hopefully it will be out by next year!”
After the excitement Slave to Sirens has shown, Torpedo showed on stage. This band was founded two years ago by Souhail Ahenjir, Zakaria Elfallah, Zakaria Fetlaoui and Abdellah Britel. Although it was founded recently, it managed to find a place beside the Metal groups in the Kingdom, and it won this year the L’Boulevard competition, Tremplin. They are talented enough to create a good career. Torpedo succeeded in imposing high harmony by playing various tracks. They opened the show with their “7 Deadly Sins” taken from their upcoming EP “Silently Blown”. Torpedo‘s performance was a great success due to their performance on the stage which is similar to celebrated international acts.
Moving to Deep Scar, it is one of the oldest bands that participated in the L’Boulevard competition, Tremplin. Although they won the second prize, the band surprised everyone during this event. The members of Deep Scar are: Tarek Balga, Ismail El Harzli, Charafeddine Ouslim, and Sami Azza. Deep Scar refueled the excitement of the audience through covering Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman.” Everyone noticed that the band was brilliant on the stage and interactive with the masses who came from all Moroccan cities, and especially from Tangier city. I wish them a successful path and more brilliance in the future.
Carcass was the most prominent band in the festival, all the fans and even the bands that participated were waiting for the legends of the British Death Metal. The beginning of the show was strong and enthusiastic. Carcass played all the new songs known to the fans. The show couldn’t be descriptive. It was glowing and wonderful.
The festival was not limited to the musical aspect only, but there were other activities like; the “Associative Souk” market. It presented some amazing art work and artistic innovations in fabrics and decorations. Their work surprised visitors to the market, Along with the “Souk, there were circus performances as well; “Colo Colo.” They entertained the audience with their professional acrobats. Additionally, there was unforgettable theatrical work that was presented along with the presence of some Cosplay fans.
On scene Souk Stage:
Alongside the official stage of the festival, there was another stage in the Souk Stage dedicated to young bands and Moroccan talents in Rock and Metal music, with the two Moroccan Rock & Metal bands like OrientAnarchy (Ambient/Psych/Neo Pop) and the second bands 3ar9ala (Hardcore Punk/ Punk Rock). The OrientAnarchy Which was formed shortly before duo members: Walid (DJ and guitarist) and the famous Ahmed aka ALKATRAZ, is one of the best guitarists in the world of metal and rock in Morocco. Their performance was incredible. They made the audience enjoy their time by blending their musical style with blues and Neo Pop.
The second group is 3ar9ala, a rebel band which is well known in the rock and punk rock music community. This group has participated in many festivals and concerts, but their lack of success last year in the L’Boulevard “Tremplin”, did not prevent them from diligence and excellence after that participation. The concert was great because the lyrics of their songs were in the Moroccan dialect.
Written by: Yassine Siyaf
Edited by: Rana Atef & May Sharaf
Photography: Hamza Benshaba