The Fridge keeps it fresh

Al Quoz warehouse is fast turning into the place to be in Dubai's music scene

  • Pianist Haley Kallenberg and ballerina Mariko Wada performing on the first of this season’s popular Fridge con Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Dahab perform at The Fridge in Al Quoz. Vocalist and guitarist Sharif Maghraby is a huge fan of the venue. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • The venue attracts a regular and eclectic following of people who come specifically for the music. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: When the roars of truck and car engines fade into the night in the industrial area of Al Quoz, another sound reverberates from a two-storey warehouse — music, and not your everyday beats.

For the past three years The Fridge has been home to Dubai-based performing artists who serenade music lovers in various genres, be it jazz, classical, rock, funk or hip-hop.

The Fridge, with more than 50 performances in its concert history, has come a long way from when it first opened its doors to budding artists in 2009.

"For a very long time, there was no dedicated focus to locally-based artists. This is something that has arisen within the last three or so years," Fridge director Shelley Frost told Gulf News.

Artistic content

This need, Frost said, pushed The Fridge into providing a venue for music that shunned the traditional and commercial.

This vibe is exemplified in its popular concert series, now in its tenth season.

"This is not about covers, or principally about entertainment," Frost said.

"This is about artistic content and as such is a great challenge for the performing artists that do take part."

What sets The Fridge apart from other venues in Dubai is it provides artistic freedom to its roster of talents — something the regular attendees welcome.

"It's a rare opportunity for them to share original material and to perform to an audience that is hungry and appreciative and that comes with open hands, open eyes, wanting to experience something different," Frost said.

Performing original material fits in perfectly with Haley Kallenberg, Dubai's premiere contemporary improvisational artist.

"This will be my second time performing at The Fridge and I have complete artistic control over what's gonna be performed," Kallenberg said.

"It's rare that an artist creating original music and new content gets a platform to be featured with such exposure."

For all the musical performances, The Fridge has an eclectic regular following.

Appreciation

"We noticed that the audiences who come to The Fridge attend those concerts for the love and appreciation of music," said Sharif Maghraby, vocalist and guitarist of Dahab, an Egyptian acoustic band. "They are focused on the actual artists as opposed to other venues where they maybe socialising or eating.

"This reflects positively on the musician and the music as well."

Maghraby said The Fridge has been instrumental in creating a framework where artist and venue could work together in a professional manner. This healthy relationship has contributed to the growth of many careers.

"They also helped to create exposure for many artists and nurtured many of them by giving them the opportunity to perform regularly and grow as musicians," Maghraby said.

Forever grateful

Among those thankful to The Fridge for giving them their break is the Dubai Vocal Ensemble (DVE), the first Filipino artist and the first choral group to grace the stage.

"DVE will forever be grateful for The Fridge as our first performance there was the cornerstone that built the choral music awareness in Dubai," said Orlee Baldedara, a member of the group.

"Here in Dubai, choral music is something rare, if not unheard of.

"Back home, we can just burst into a song and sing our lungs out but here we have to think twice before singing in public.

"Good thing The Fridge caters for our need to perform."

Catch the tenth concert series, running every Monday of the week until June 18. For more information, visit www.thefridgedubai.com.