The Muslims Do TOUR, which began on the “laborious” Labor Day weekend opened on August 30th at the Durham Fruit. I had not yet attended a show at The Fruit, so as I walked up to the entrance and scanned the entire space, I found myself in a daze, taking in all details of this unique venue space. From the graffiti unicorn on white cloth urinating a rainbow to its red sickle and hammer, I knew from aesthetic alone that I was in for a night to remember. I met the gaze of the person who had been waiting for me to pay admission. It was cash-only this night as the band was raising money to fund their tour, but I did not have anything resembling legal tender in my pocket. Thankfully, The Muslims had a sliding scale admission of $5-10 and their Venmo and Cash app written down for anyone who might find themselves in line thinking, “Shit, money, shit,” expecting to be turned away to search for an ATM. When my phone would not load the apps, I asked if they needed proof of payment and was met with a “Nah, I trust you.” Community, y’all.
When I walked into The Fruit, I scanned the room and noticed the projection screen displaying clips from music videos by The Muslims and “Let’s Learn Arabic with Zachary.” The projection screen was to my right, while to my left I saw a unicorn shooting a rainbow from its loins with a Socialist hammer and sickle on the same cloth banner hanging on the wall. In front of the banner, I noticed a small display of merch items for sale: original, silver-pressed CDs of the band’s music, a zine put together by Laila, and more. I saw a crowd of people slowly filing in and made my way to the beer stand before there was a line. Once I grabbed a beer, I stood watching the band play around with tuning meanwhile asking the crowd about sound levels before stopping to let us know that it was Laila’s birthday.
I recently started listening to the band when The Editor asked me to dive into their self-titled album for a review on Durham Beat. I had not yet seen them live. From the very first track their energy, vocals, and instrumentation were reproduced to that same CD quality with the added benefit of seeing the members trade smiles, nods, and laughter before each song, as if playing out an inside joke. The crowd was trepidatious, in need of a bit of encouragement to move closer and unfold their arms to dance, but the band kept their same energy throughout each song and danced freely as they performed.
As I write this, the tour has finished and I can only imagine how well they must have done across the dates and venues. The Muslims have consistently proven to be a gem within the local music scene in Durham.
Featured photo by Riley The Photographer. #durhambeatoriginal