Just Music for Just Cause

By ANI SHAHINIAN
Asbarez Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES–From their popular hit "Aerials," a surprise rendition of the Armenian love song "Aran’s Kez" (Without You)–to a moving instrumental version of the patriotic song "Sardarabad," April 24 at the Greek Theater proved to be an emotional night unparalleled–as it formed an unspeakable bond among Armenia’s there. The boys of System Of A Down had a mission–to magnify the overt and intentional omission of the Armenian Genocide by the US Congress and successive administrations. And they did just that–especially by reaching out to youth–both Armenian and non-Armenian–at the SOULS 2004 Benefit concert.

Band members–Serj Tankian–vocals; Daron Malakian–guitars; bassist Shavo Odadjian–and drummer John Dolmayan–all of Armenian descent–have been very active in supporting this cause for years. SOULS 2004 is the most recent in the band’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide and other global abuses of human rights.

The band transferred its intense and emotional energy to the audience throughout the concert. Their politics on the Bush administration’s shortcomings and the blatant denial of the Genocide by Turkey were vocalized–as the audience enthusiastically applauded and roared in agreement.

Although the night was electrifying from the moment the band took to the stage–it reached its climax when Daron mesmerized the audience–specifically Armenia’s–when he poignantly sang "Arantz Kez." Everyone seemed to look at each other in awe–desperately trying to figure out what the name of the beautiful song.

After much speculation–a hunch that the song belongs to Paul Baghdadlian–and a week of seeking out hard core Paul fans–Asbarez finally learned the song’s name (Daron–surely did the song great justice).

The evening’s last song–"P.L.U.C.K. (Politically Lying–Unholy–Cowardly Killers)," appropriately commemorated the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–as Tankian sang:

A whole race Genocide,
Taken away all of our pride–
A whole race Genocide,
Taken away–Watch Them all fall down.

Revolution–the only solution,
The armed response of an entire nation,
Revolution–the only solution,
We’ve taken all your s***–now it’s time for restitution.

Recognition–Restoration–Reparation,
Recognition–Restoration–Reparation.

Tankian expressed wholehearted appreciation for making it one of the band’s most memorable nights. The audience–in turn–thanked them through their standing ovations–relentless applause–and ear-piercing hollering for making it a memorable experience for all their fans.

Before exiting the stage–however–System had another surprise up their sleeves for the Armenia’s in the audience–an instrumental version of the patriotic song "Sardarabad." Whether you remembered all the words or only a few lines here and there–the lyrics were heard throughout the theater.

The concert came to an end–much to the disappointment of all; the audience lingered–hoping the band would reemerge to once more provide an unwavering sense of hope–that perhaps the Armenian Genocide would be recognized soon–and reaffirm the pain of war–the senseless loss of lives.

Though the band alone cannot carry the burden of such a major task–they provide a creative outlet for educating the public not through the usual–mundane rhetoric–but through their powerful music that speaks to all. They have taken the fame they so rightly earned and deserve–using it productively–especially on an issue so close to their hearts–justice to all in our world.

Daron at one point told the audience he only dreamed of performing to such an audience; and we only dreamed of being that proud audience.

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