On November 23, Forum de Beyrouth was crammed with enthusiastic concert-goers eager to witness the much-hyped Red Bull SoundClash Lebanon unfold.

The event saw two of Lebanon’s mightiest champions of alternative music, Mashrou’ Leila and Who Killed Bruce Lee, go head to head in an ultimate four-round battle of musical dominance. They say challenge brings out the best in people, and that proved to be just as true for these two bands, as fans were treated to a spectacular showcase of talent and versatility.

Not convinced? Well tell me then, where else will you ever hear…

1. Mashrou’ Leila covering Britney Spears’ Toxic

(Photo via Instagram)

The first round was titled "The Cover." Both bands had to present their own unique rendition of the same song, and that song was: Britney Spears’ Toxic. Both versions were nothing like the original, and that was precisely the appeal of this round, but Mashrou’ Leila’s raunchy Arabic language take on it was what drove the crowd nuts, which included such profound statements as "I'm about to lose myself to my vagina". If all trashy Arabic pop sounded like that, I wouldn’t mind it as much.

2. Who Killed Bruce Lee covering Mashrou’ Leila

(Photo via Red Bull)

The second round was dubbed, "The Takeover." In this, each band would start playing one of its own songs, and midway through, pass it on to the other band to complete it, but in their own style. Mashrou’ Leila made fine work of adapting Who Killed Bruce Lee’s material, but few expected just how adept Who Killed Bruce Lee’s Wassim Bou Malham would be at the whole Arabic rock thing. Backing up those Arabic vocals with that electro-rock vibe of theirs was really something; an Arabic language incarnation of the band (Man Qatala Broos Lee?) wouldn’t be such a bad idea at all.

3. Who Killed Bruce Lee getting their hip-hop on

(Photo via Monkyseemonkydo)

At one point it was time for "The Clash," (the round, not the band), in which the bands would have to play one of their own songs in a predetermined style. Once again, what followed was pure magic, as each band presented totally remixed and reinvented versions of some of their well-known material. Mashrou’ Leila’s indie-electro version of Shim el Yasmine was excellent stuff, but Who Killed Bruce Lee truly killed it when they flipped their song Put it in a Bag into a head-nodding rock-tinged hip-hop joint a la Rage Against the Machine. No joke: that Bou Malham can rap.

4. Mashrou’ Leila bringing in Hindi Zahra

(Photo via Gino’s Blog)

The final round was dubbed, "The Wild Card." The bands were allowed to invite a guest of their choice to join them on stage. Who Killed Bruce Lee went the classical route by bringing onboard Maestro Harout Fazlian and six flutists from the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, who played along with them with some Bach (Minuet and Badinerie Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor to be precise). But it was Mashrou’ Leila who really took the cake for their guest who came all the way over from Paris: Franco-Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra. Together they performed a live mashup of one of their songs with Zahra’s Beautiful Tango. Talk about a surprise guest.

5. Mashrou’ Leila and Who Killed Bruce Lee playing together

(Photo via Monkyseemonkydo)

At the end of the night, it was time to find out who would be crowned the victor via the state-of-the-art custom-built cheer-o-meter (read: good old fashioned cheering from the crowd). The air was thick with tension, but ultimately the result was… a tie! So, in the spirit of unity and cooperation, Who Killed Bruce Lee made their way to Mashrou’ Leila’s stage, where they joined forces to play one big Arabic-English-electro-folk-pop-rock jam to conclude the night, leaving the crowd craving for more.

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