Even before Mashrou’ Leila enter the stage you can hear the crowd cheering, and when singer Hamed Sinno walks on, dressed in a simple black t-shirt, silver shorts, tights and sneakers we are all screaming. When the band starts playing, no one stands still.

The Lebanese queer band was formed in 2008 in Beirut and consists of singer, Hamed Sinno, violinist, Haig Papazian, Carl Gerges on drums, Ibrahim Badr on bass and Firas Abou Fakher om guitar and keyboard. The band has stirred up a lot of controversy, mainly in Southwest Asia and Northern Africa and has been banned from performing in both Jordan and Egypt.

Their sound is unique and filled with contrast but the indierock, syntpop-features, beautiful violinplay, and classically arabic influences fit together with Hamed Sinnos pure vocal excellence and mixes into something completely magical. Even the sound quality and light show is on point.

The singer and front figure of the band, Hamed Sinno’s charm and charisma creates an intimate and cozy ambiance that seems to reach every last person all the way to the back of the crowd. The singer is humble and funny without really trying to be. Though they seems a bit shy in between songs, that shyness is replaced by impressive vocals and awesome dance moves when the music starts playing.

The topics of their music is about sexuality, love, politics and norms – amongst other things. Between the songs we are given context so even those of us who don’t speak Arabic can keep up. “We Love you, Hamed”, I hear people shout, “I Love you too. Honestly.” Is the heartfelt reply.

The line to the backstage area gets long after the band leaves the stage. “Please, we just want one picture”, I hear the fans say, and pictures they will get. When I get the chance to talk to the singer they are as kind and humble off stage as they were onstage.

I ask what the best part of Gothenburg has been. The reply is dead certain and immediate, “This audience!! Admittedly I haven’t seen much of the city apart from the walk from our hotel to H&M”, they laugh. “But if everyone in Gothenburg is as nice as this crowd, I really like it”.

The fans are getting impatient so I make my last question about what message Hamed wants to give to those struggling with sexuality or gender – maybe in connection to religion, family or any other social factors. Hamed takes a second to consider the reply. “It’s okay go entertain the idea that the world might be wrong.

That’s maybe not the best attitude to have in every situation”, they jokes, “but if it’s who you are inside, if that’s what makes you feel good and comfortable in your own skin. If it feels right to you, it’s okay to decide that the world is wrong and that you’re right. Don’t change who you are for anyone else. In my own experience, there was no other option for me. I couldn’t keep trying to be someone I’m not.

Text: Nadja Farkhondehkish