Kuch Khaas open mic night: Good times in Islamabad!

I expected the event to be filled with tone-deaf kids and bad karaoke music, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Ibrahim Shakeel December 02, 2010
Last weekend I attended an open mic night at Kuch Khaas, a famous social enterprise in Islamabad. The occasion held all the promise to be yet another "mass brain cell genocide"; a phrase I use fondly each time I end up at one of these gigs. I had anticipated a night filled with tone-deaf kids hopped up on drugs, with couples leering in the corners and of course bad karaoke music.

But I was wrong on all counts. This open mic night has to be one of the finest youth events I've attended in a long time.

Kuch Khaas is located in a residential house in sector F6/1 along Margalla road, the "rich kids" area. Anyone from Islamabad will tell you that this part of the city equals the 'yo' crowd.

So when I walked in, I was half expecting a drunken kid to scream “love is in the air!” into my ear but I was pleasantly surprised.

There were people sitting quietly on cushions in the lounge, with a floor deck up front where all the equipment stood. They were actually listening to the music! No purple haze, no make-out sessions, no headaches from over-pitched boom boxes; it was just normal kids hanging out and listening to the music.

There were real performers, real music, and for a change - real people .

The performances were enthralling from start to finish, covering just about all the popular genres. There was rap (no offense taken if read 'crap'), quintessential acoustic guitar play, refreshing Disney song duets, Presley's falsetto, Punjabi classical, nearly everything got covered. From emo love songs to embarrassing no-instrument solos (which was amazing because of its own honesty.)

This was one night Islamabad got to see music come alive. Local talent finally got to showcase its brilliance.

Along with the performances, the management behind the gig also played a crucial role. There were bonfires arranged in the back lawn with a café (it had the best cupcakes!); they even had ushers inside the lounge who directed the audience between songs to either keep quiet or relocate to the bonfire where you could still hear the performance. Having a bonfire in November is always a golden idea, and the management was skillful enough to tailor it into the evening program without overshadowing the gig itself.

I personally think it fair to state that this social enterprise has finally taken the first step to change in Islamabad, and is proudly leading as its flag bearer.

Great job, Kuch Khaas!
Ibrahim Shakeel A blogger based in Islamabad who writes about politics, music and literature
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