OMAR SOULEYMAN brought his delectable Syrian electro-pop to Tokyo on Day 2 of HOSTESS CLUB WEEKENDER, resulting in an incredibly charged afternoon audience dancing and flailing to his high-energy and unique style of dabke, a native Arab dance.
Accompanied only by his talented keyboardist Rizan Sa’id, Souleyman broached the stage with arms opened wide before breaking into his hit track Warni Warni. It was remarkable to see how much he could pump up the audience with only minimal physical exertion on his part; his whole performance involved him walking from one end of the stage to the other, intermittently stopping to gaze out upon audience members and clap serenely, merely adding to the innate coolness that Souleyman exudes. His unique and fast-tempo hybrid melodies were a fresh change of pace for the festival, and the crowd showed the most sincere appreciation.
Performing as an incredibly successful and well-known wedding singer in and around Syria since 1994, Souleyman would have his live wedding performances recorded to cassette tape and given as a gift to the bride and groom. These tapes were so popular that they were copied and sold at record stores by the hundreds, and it was this distribution that lead to him being discovered and introduced to the western world by label Sublime Frequencies in 2006, before switching to Domino in late 2011.
Since being picked up internationally, he’s performed all throughout the US, Europe and Asia as headliner, and has starred in some of the biggest festivals, including All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK, Way Out West in Sweden and perhaps even more notably the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway in December 2012. His worldwide recognition has allowed him to collaborate with the likes of Björk, remixing some tracks from Biophilia for The Crystalline Series in 2011, as well as linking him up with Kieren Hebden, the musical genius behind the moniker Four Tet. This lead to mutual remixes as well as Four Tet producing Souleyman’s latest album Wenu Wenu, released in early 2013. Hostess Club Weekender turned out to be a good chance for the two musicians to catch up backstage; Four Tet was the next act to follow Souleyman’s brilliant performance on Sunday afternoon.