Morocco’s biggest festival L’Boulevard comes back for its 20th edition: Vader set the tone for local bands

Author Oussama El Ouadie - 7.11.2022

20 editions after starting in a small auditorium, promoting local metal bands in Casablanca, L’Boulevard has grown into the biggest underground culture festival in Morocco, and one of the biggest music festivals in the country, and North Africa. It has since then included more underground cultures than just metal, having now 6 days over 2 weekends, with one day per weekend for rock and metal, one for rap and hip-hop, and one for fusion and other alternative forms of music. The formula is that the first weekend takes the shape of a competition which sees young acts challenge for a spot in the second week end, where they’d open for bigger acts, national and international.

This report focuses on the rock/metal branch of the fest. Gathering metalheads from all over Morocco, all ages and backgrounds, the first day of the festival saw a fairly big affluence. Around 3 to 4 thousand people attended the competition, where bands of different styles competed for a spot to support the legendary polish death metal outlet, Vader, the following weekend.

Headlining the first weekend were the French experimental metal band Psykup, who blasted the audience with their unique, baffling song structures. But the local metalheads were left thirsty, as the lineup for that day criminally lacked metal. But the excitement of watching Vader the next weekend softened the blow.

But then the big day came, the long-awaited concert was there. Winners of the competition, Aghroomers (psychedelic blues/rock) and Teltach (punk rock) were amongst the line up of the bands supporting Vader, along with the local metalcore legends Hold the Breath, Togolese surprise guests Arka’n Asrafokor and local parodic punk/fusion band Betweenatna. Vader then came on to unleash hell on the biggest Moroccan city, leaving no prisoners. For their first ever show in Africa, the poles made sure they’d bless the Moroccan audience with all their classics, as well as new tunes from their latest “Solitude in Madness” album. A 75 minutes show that generated sweat, dirt and turned the R.U.C. Stadium venue upside down, paying homage at its end to Slayer, covering “Hell Awaits”.

Definitely an unforgettable concert for all metalheads from Morocco, but a once in a lifetime experience for me, as I had the pleasure to accompany the band throughout their stay in Morocco. Very inspiring, as one would expect from guys who have been playing straight forward, in your face death metal for 40 years.

In a metal landscape where artists are lacking authenticity and genuineness more and more, you’re reassured when you meet people who embody the real values of metal. Down to earth, genuine, humble, passionate, and true to themselves. Vader were a lesson in how not to lose yourself, and a reminder that the most important thing when you play metal, is that your music is a mirror to your true self, not reflecting what society and music industry try to pressure you into.

As humble as they were, the whole Vader crew were most curious about the local culture and customs, and focused on bringing to these like-minded fans a show that they would relate to, not some recycled formula. And they managed to connect with the crowd profoundly. Because music coming from the heart, with passion, is only aimed for the heart.

Hopefully, Vader will set the tone for local bands, and for the rest of the world, that metal is first and foremost, a reflection of the soul, and that taking a fast way to fame, would only mean the downfall will be hard. Focus on the core, because a mediocre foundation, is the reaper for the mightiest skyscraper.