History has been made in Saudi Arabia, as grindcore band Creative Waste put on the first public metal show in the kingdom’s history. The performance is a gigantic step forward for creative expression in the notoriously repressive country, which has sent musicians to jail in the past just for playing.

The underground Saudi scene has operated since 2009, with Al-Namrood rising as Saudi Arabia’s most popular and provocative metal band. Creative Waste have also developed a following as Saudi Arabia’s only grind band, crushing at private compound shows since their inception.

On October 25, 2019, however, metal arrived above ground at the Bohemian Art Cafe in Khobar. "Leading up to the show people, especially bands, were skeptical for the longest time, because they existed in the old generation," frontman Fawaz Al Shawaf tells Metal Injection. "A lot of them were being conservative. They were worried. No one’s ready to take the risk. But I mean, the ones who organized the show are actually basically newcomers and young. They didn’t even know what grindcore or death metal was. So they weren’t into extreme music, but they asked us and I thought the idea was so crazy that I accepted it because it’s a part of the change.”

Creative Waste freely promoted their home country show, which also featured doom metallers Shamal and instrumental act Madani Zakari, on social media. As a 20-year music veteran, though, Al Shawaf wasn’t sure if the gig would actually take place.

"Before it used to be only us organizing and people from Jeddah. It was a close circle, only people within the metal community. And then people out of nowhere started showing up and organizing shows. That’s when problems started to happen,” Al Shawaf explains. “One of them went to jail for a year. The other one, he wasn’t Saudi so he got deported to Syria and blacklisted. And after that the metal scene went to a complete halt because now they see the stakes are too high.”

The Oct. 25 gig, to the surprise of many, brought no legal troubles to the bands, venue or audience. "It was one of the best shows we’ve ever played, like literally," the Creative Waste leader says. "A lot of people who showed were faces I haven’t seen in ages, like I haven’t seen them in over 10 years. They appeared on that day, which was really cool. It felt like everyone’s coming back. Everyone’s starting to get hopeful. All the organizers, all the people in the metal scene are now starting to think bigger, like they want to do bigger shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if they held an open air show. They’re really, really driven. And I think it’s going to happen, all after this show. This show was like … it’s possible. We did it. Nothing happened. The world didn’t end because everyone was scared."

Congratulations to Creative Waste and everyone who took part in Saudi Arabia’s first public metal gig. Watch footage from the historic performance in the videos above and be sure to follow Creative Waste on Facebook.

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