Inspired by one of the most iconic moments in the history of live music, Stock the Wood is a yearly concert that brings people together to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, support local bands and raise money to combat deforestation in Lebanon. Stock the Wood is one of those annual events I find myself looking forward to, it is a seamless blend of all my favorite things: music, a good cause and AUB (which has become a second home). This event has always been a cradle of wonderful memories for my friends and I, there’s something so magical about live music on a rooftop under the stars.

In a country like Lebanon, where the trash crisis and severe lack of environmental regulation laws have left the country a barren polluted mound of rotting feces, Stock the Wood is a breath of fresh air for those of us wheezing for change.

This year was no exception, AUB’s Nature Conservation Center has gone above and beyond any other year in all aspects of the concert organization for its 5th annual event. Free food and drink presented by sponsors, as well as charming DIY flower presents, were offered to all those who attended. Water was distributed in traditional clay water pots as an adorably clever way to cut down on plastic. Recycling bins were also scattered all over to keep the event as environmentally friendly as possible.

In addition to bands this year’s event also had live artists creating art around the audience the entire duration of the concert.

Five bands played for the duration of the two hour event, minus sound check and preparation between each band this left 15 minutes of actual play time. The event started at 7:30 and the first band to play was 3two5 who managed to squeeze in four songs, the first two of which were originals. They also covered ‘Mercy’ by Duffy and ‘Uptown Funk’ which warmed up the crowd a little bit. Although they had some sound system issues they were well rehearsed and evidently, skilled musicians.

The second band to play was Alan Abi, who were definitely the band with the most impressive stage presence and musical talent that night. These guys have been bringing sweet funky/psychedelic vibes to the scene for quite a while and fit in perfectly with the atmosphere of the event. They also handled a minor electricity cut during their act by treating the audience to some fantastic mid-song-evolved drum improv, which got the audience thoroughly involved for the first time that night and put a smile on everyone’s face.

Next up was الطبقة الوسطى , the only band to play with exclusively Arabic lyrics. They were charming and quirky, strongly reminiscent to Mashrou’ Leila. Although the subject matter of their songs was controversial, one can’t help but admire their off-the-wall style.

The Artichokes were the next band to play. This band has some definite talent but chooses to take the parody ridden route, the lead singer delivering an overly theatric performance for comedic effect. They also had several gimmicks which the audience received with delighted bewilderment.

The last act was Milestone, by far my favorite band to have ever watched live at any of AUB’s events (stock the wood or AUB outdoors). You never get metal bands preforming at mixed music events, and the genre is vastly underrepresented.  But to my delight, Milestone delivered the most satisfying, goosebump-inducing set that I’ve attended in a while. I’m not quite sure how to describe them but I think a mixture of power metal, heavy metal and djent (particularly their last song) is as close as it gets. The band was incredibly talented and professional, obviously well-rehearsed. Their front man was full of energy and had wonderful stage presence. However, by the time it was their turn to play, nearly 80% of the audience had left. For the best act to have a measly handful of people watching them play was such a shame and I really hope Milestone expands their outreach and gets the recognition they deeply deserve.

All in all the event was very enjoyable. The only problem was, despite being the most well organized event to date, the number of attendees this year was almost half the amount of last year and the subsequent years before that. Despite this, Stock the Wood remains an exceptional event for a much needed cause and I can’t wait to see what the NCC comes up with next year.