BEIRUT: Crowds of music lovers shrugged off the tense security situation in Lebanon and flocked to Downtown Beirut Saturday night for the 2014 Fete da la Musique.
“Thank you all for being here despite the shitty situation in the country, it shows that you’ve got real heart,” Oak, the eponymous lead singer of a folk rock band, told the crowd of around 150 gathered at the stage at the Roman baths.
The festival, which involved more than 40 performers on six stages, went ahead Saturday despite security forces being on high alert in the capital and across the country after Friday’s suicide bombing in the Bekaa Valley that killed an ISF officer.
“I expected many Lebanese to be here, they bounce back from any situation" one festivalgoer, Ahmad, told The Daily Star.
Roads were jammed with traffic near Martyrs’ Square starting soon after the 6 p.m. starting time of the first performances. Far from being a light turnout, many drivers struggled to find parking spaces, as lots filled up quickly.
A frequent attendee of the event told The Daily Star that "there was no apparent difference in the turnout compared to last year."
The main stage at Martyr’s Square drew a crowd of several hundred by the time local band Wanton Bishops went on around 11 p.m.
In addition to Oak and the Wanton Bishops, performers also included electro-indie pop band Loopstache, post-jazz rock group Pindoll and the Wetrobots. The stages spread out over downtown, from Zaitunay Bay to two setups at the Beirut Souks and a stage at Uruguay Street.
While other events were canceled Saturday in light of the security situation, including the Live Achrafieh Music and Street Festival, festivalgoers seemed dismissive any the threat.
One attendee told The Daily Star that the security alert couldn’t keep her from coming, adding that "she's used to it.”