Lebanese-born, Paris-based DJ, Hadi Zeidan delivered an OzAsia double header at Nexus Arts over two nights at the festival’s tail end, with Shik Shak Shok on Thursday 31st October and Beirut Electro Parade the following evening. Both events revolved around music inspired by the country of Zeidan’s birth, who was the sole performer on the opening night. This was a retro affair that sought to recreate a Beirut nightclub from the late seventies / early eighties, while the Friday delivered a more contemporary flavour with a bespoke line-up of international DJs.

Billed as immersive experience, Shik Shak Shok promised the re-creation a Beirut nightclub from a bygone era, something that clearly resonated with audiences, given it was sold out in advance. Zeidan is a talented DJ, who played some excellent music on vinyl that fused belly-dance music with seventies funk and rock. Despite this, the evening did not quite deliver on expectations, with many clearing out by the half way point. The video projections of belly-dancers and hummus on the tables went some way to creating the desired vibe, but the show required something more to be genuinely immersive. The addition of some live dance, for instance, might have helped here. That we were told to turn off phones as we entered only added to expectations that something more would happen. So while the created environment was great for catching up with a friend over a drink with some great background music, the event never reached anything more than this.

Beirut Electro Parade on the following night transformed the venue into a pop-up international DJ event, featuring a multi-artist line-up, including Zeidan alongside a host of others. The event promised a musical journey encompassing the modern soundscapes of Beirut, which certainly proved the case, with each DJ showcasing the theme within their own unique style.

Unfortunately, the crowd was a little sparse for the event, affecting the overall atmosphere. It probably didn’t help that the beats for the first hour or so seemed repetitive, which didn’t encourage the already small crowd to get up and dance. More people did come through later, which certainly lifted the vibe, however the night felt like a missed opportunity to create something exciting and different. Beirut Electro Parade had some great elements, especially with some of the music really hitting the theme, however it didn’t reach the heights of a great event.

Both nights certainly created an engaging atmosphere and delivered excellent music for the patrons, but they left us feeling like there were some missed opportunities here

Written by Matthew Trainor and Tania Nicholas