Tehran’s Underground Rock Scene

Colin Myen in In These Times:

At a 2001 rock concert in Tehran, Iran, members of the alternative rock band O-hum wore jeans and T-shirts. Some of them had mop tops. The lead singer jumped around with his bright red guitar as young girls screamed and boys climbed onto the stage before jumping off and body surfing the crowd.

Hundreds of young Iranians packed the Russian Orthodox Church (a neutral site not under government control) to hear O-hum’s Persian Rock—a blend of Western and Iranian music that lead singer Shahram Sharbaf and guitarist Shahrokh Izadkhah co-created. Juxtaposing the lyrics of Hafez, a 17th-century Persian poet, with soft Middle Eastern string instruments, drum beats and electric guitar riffs, O-hum’s music was hard and distinctly rock and roll.

O-hum, which means “illusions” in Farsi, was at the forefront of the Iranian underground music scene, building a voice of dissent and a refuge from the rigid censorship of the cleric-run government. The 2001 concert was O-hum’s first in Iran—and one of its last.