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Eclectic electric: Acollective

The pop music pride of Tel Aviv visits the Savannah Music Festival

POSTED: March 27, 2012 3:32 p.m.
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Acollective, with lead singers Idan Rabinovici (center, left) and Roy Rieck (right)

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With root systems that feed from a half-dozen genres, from punk to jazz, from folk to electronica, Acollective stands tall as a singular tree in a forest of international indie bands trying to reach the sun.

The eclectic Acollective, sharing a Savannah Music Festival bill with Athens' Futurebirds March 29, is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, where there's a fertile music scene.

No, really, there is.

"The music that we do," says co-lead singer Idan Rabinovici, "is very much influenced by who we are and how we came to be playing music together in the first place."

Rabinovici has a degree in Psychology from Cornell University, and studied Philosophy and Politics at Oxford. He's also an unapologetic folkie with several independently-released albums on his resume.

Acollective was originally called Strange Folks.

"We started as a jam band, and had no intentions of writing songs, or aspirations of stardom, or any of that bullshit," Rabinovici declares. "It was very much a couple of friends getting together in their basements, on free weekends from the Army, and just jamming."

Acollective is on its very first tour of the United States - the guys started out two weeks ago in Austin, where they played six showcase gigs at SXSW.

This has all come about because the new Acollective album, Onwards, was produced by the esteemed studioman Chris Shaw (Nada Surf, Bob Dylan, Weezer, Ween, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and others).

"If you don't want to buy their album after listening to it, you're probably a cold-hearted jaded music snob," crowed Chiky, the owner, operator and chief blogger of hipsterjew.com, in a pre-SXSW rave.

"We've all been to the States, but not as a band and not together," Rabinovici says. "And some of us have toured the States with other bands. So it wasn't completely unfamiliar, but I think there's something very special about coming with your own band.

"With us, it's not a bunch of musicians who just happen to be playing the sane kind of music. We're friends from early childhood. So it has more adventure to it, and everybody's a lot more involved."

The Austin music madness, he reports, was both "crazy" and "fantastic." It was particularly gratifying to hear audiences singing along with Acollective songs. Considering no one in Texas - presumably - had ever before seen the band live.

"It's the reverse of what we're used to," Rabinovici explains. "We're very much like a grassroots type of band that used to tour Israel a lot, and play tons and tons of shows, building up our fan base slowly. We're used to the fact that we're very much a word-of-mouth type band.

"So for people to see us on the Internet, or see a digital version of us, and only then come to our liver shows, is kind of the other way around for us. In a cool way, I think."

It may well come as a shock for western pop fans to learn that music and musicians in Israel run the gamut - sure, there are traditional (and even non-traditional) songs sung in Hebrew, but hip hop, metal, folk, jazz and electronica all live and breathe.

They're quite healthy, thank you. And they live and breathe in English.

"I think the great thing about Israel is that it's so small," says Rabinovic. "I guess it's also a bad thing, to a certain extent.

"Especially in Tel Aviv, it's a realty close-knit, concentrated bunch of people. There's almost a million people in the area of Tel Aviv. But the land mass is really small. And you get to know people. It's very much a community.

"The music scene is really cool in that way. You end up meeting a lot of musicians, and there's a lot of mutual support for the scent that's going on there."

Savannah Music Festival

Acollective (with Futurebirds)

At 8:30 p.m. March 29/Trustees Theater

 

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