For the second time in two years, Los Angeles based Element Band performed in the San Francisco Bay area, specifically San Mateo, on the invitation of the local Homenetmen Ani Chapter. The concert attracted a host of fans who had come to know Element Band from their previous performance there.
But there were noticeable differences since that last performance in January 2007–changes that even their Southern California fans have yet to witness.
Today, Element Band has evolved into an unprecedented experience that includes a dynamic, 9-member group with 3 vocalists performing Ara Dabandjian’s trademark arrangemen’s. The band uses even more unique instrumen’s (eleven-or so total) to serve-up an alluring, and ever-evolving array of music to their fans.
And for those who filled the Bayside Performing Arts Center on September 27, the evening was simply magical. "I can’t believe the concert is already over. We all had a great time," said Araxie Arzoumanian after the concert.
Arzoumanian was one of the organizers who helped make the concert happen in the Bay Area, following Element Band’s initial introduction there. "The band is just amazing and exceedingly talented," she said after witnessing their recent progression. That progress merges youthful exuberance with a rare chemistry between all nine members. That chemistry is glaringly obvious.
For the first time during an Element Band performance, violinist Shant Mahserejian’s usually solo joie de vivre was complimented by the genuine joyfulness of the three soloists–Karni Hadidian, Soseh Keshishyan, Heibert Sarian–who shared the stage in perfect harmony–with their laughs, dances, looks, and raw energy.
They were joined by the antics of percussionists Armen Meshefejian and Vahan Mezian, and their jovial guitarist friend Krikor Sarafian–all a show in themselves, as was Bassist Roman Samokish’s blissful performance during which he appeared to absorb and truly enjoy each-and-every beat.
But what is a constant for the band is the ability to fuse foreign beats and sounds to Armenian renditions, while maintaining their purity. This, of course, is the band leader, Ara Dabandjian’s forte–who, besides Armenian, presented an alluring mix of French, Greek and Mexican renditions–23 songs in all, to the receptive audience.
The band performed two encores–their popular Ayloughs and the new, upbeat Haprpan, to be called back to stage to perform a third–Khrimian Hairigi Yerku that showcased the very different voices of the female vocalists. Hadidian belted it out with raw energy, Keshishyan balanced with ornate skill–while male vocalist Sarian conveyed the deep nationalistic value of the song effortlessly.
After greeting old friends and new fans, the band moved the party to the home of Boghos and Rina Chanchanian who, for the second time, hosted an intimate after-party–this time for about 50 people–among them Element Band fans from even Anjar, Lebanon.
While memories and visuals were created by members of Element Band on stage, they left the San Francisco Bay Area with fond memories of the unparalleled warmth of members of the Ani chapter and the enthusiasm of the inviting community.