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Iranian Rock Show: Not a Paradox

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On a sticky dance floor at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Orange County this past Saturday, pretty girls screamed and jumped up and down in their too-high heels, hipster boys bobbed their heads as they sipped their Stellas, and baldish, grayish dad-types belted out memorized lyrics, flashing devil's horns of approval with both hands.

They were all Iranians there to see Kiosk, a blues/rock outfit that started in the early '90s in Iran's underground (literally - they practiced secretly in basements and storage spaces to evade authorities). Kiosk's sound is frequently compared to the Dire Straits and is a big departure from the pop-heavy Iranian music scene. The band's core members mostly live in North America now, and both their albums, Eshghe Sorat (Love for Speed) and Adameh Mamooli (Ordinary Man), were released relatively recently. The lyrics are heavy on social commentary about Iranian life after the Islamic revolution, but that's not to say it's all heavy delivery: one of their songs is a sort of fill-in-the-blank for Persian swear words - blanks which the audience gleefully filled in at this show (expanding my vocabulary just a little).