These Lebanese rockers have something to say — with rousing, electro-pop anthems that tackle LGBT rights, race, religion and modern Arabic identity. With guitar, bass, drums, violin and the smoldering vocals of lead singer Hamed Sinno — who is openly gay in a region where that can provoke persecution and worse — the group mixes rock and Arabic music. Founded 10 years ago by students at American Beirut University, Mashrou’ Leila challenges the status quo in the Middle East and busts Arab stereotypes in the rest of the world. Born in 2008 out of a late night/early morning jam session at the American University of Beirut, Mashrou' Leila (whose name roughly translates to Overnight Project) fill their live performances with some of the most bittersweet ballads and raucous anthems you're likely to hear. The band's music works on two fronts: tackling subjects that are considered taboo in the Arab world and breaking the Arab image out of its orientalist mold. Their lyrics, in Arabic, are outspoken: “My life spent with rights mortgaged off to your sentiments / My history erased from our books like they were yours to claim,” Sinno sings in their song Tayf (Ghost), a solemn but defiant tribute to a Beirut gay bar that was shut down by Lebanese authorities in 2013.