Super Salt 2019 fails to back up the hype

It wasn't the late night outing Shamoon Ismail's fans were expecting

Muneeba Anwar December 16, 2019

KARACHI: ‘Over-promise’ and ‘under-deliver’ are two words that come to mind if one were to describe this year's Super Salt. The much-awaited event took place over the weekend and needless to say didn’t live up to the hype. From bad sound to being overcrowded to artists not being able to form a connection with the audience, Super Salt had it all.

Over 50 musicians were playing at the event, with main acts including Ali Gul Pir, Meesha Shafi, Hamza Akram, and Shamoon Ismail.  While the sound system was clearly mismanaged, certain acts did manage to make the best out of the situation.

Hussain Dossa and Meesha Shafi were the better ones through the night allowing audiences to temporarily ignore the overall mismanagement. Shamoon Ismail, on the other hand, landed himself in an embarrassing situation. While the cause of it is up to debate, be it a bad sound system or his own abilities, Hussain Dossa was brought in a second time to compensate for the Islamabad-based-singer songwriter’s onstage debacle.


“Having attended last year’s Super Salt, I went with high expectations to this one but was rather disappointed” Sharmeen, an attendee told Express Tribune. It seemed like they had oversold. It was too overcrowded to even move around. The sound for some artists was barely audible, like Shamoon Ismail. The setup and stalls outside were great, however, the event itself did not meet my expectations.”

With the audience standing further away from the stage, not being able to see the performances from afar, a screen could have made things better as Fatima, another attendee quotes, “There were no screens on the stage. A lot of people could not see the stage.”First-time attendee Zain Haider, expressed similar sentiments, “I heard a lot about Salt Arts event. Before coming to Super Salt, I was really looking forward to it. I am disappointed since the sound system was not up to the mark, making it impossible for me to listen to the artists, specially Shamoon Ismail.”


Rania Durrani, the Executive Advisor and Co-Founder of Salt Arts was quick to respond, "Supersalt 2018 in retrospect feels much smaller, it was the first one and has a special place in our journey, as it gave us a launchpad to play and experiment with the notion of hosting a large annual blockbuster in a public space. We are always grateful to the 2018 line up for their collaboration.”

Salt Arts continues to grow every year, and sure enough will grow further, in spite of the few mishaps they’ve faced along their way to normalising creative display of musical arts.

Responding to the criticism Durrani said, "Audience development and experience has been and are the most critical pillars of Salt Art's journey. In an effort of making these arts and music experiences more available rather than always exclusive, and by hosting a large show in a public space, we faced multiple challenges with entry and exit points, space, crowd flow and quality of sound. We love our audience and artists and recognise that these areas need more attention and planning and are grateful for the feedback, support, and understanding of the community."

The featured artists, however, considered it a success and are hopeful for the future. Ali Gul Pir, who performed at Salt Arts for the first time, was thrilled by the experience, “The crowd was pretty amazing during my performance, very energetic and interactive. Talking about the other artists, I had a great time working with DJ Hussian Dossa, Shamoon is my personal favorite and I promised to take him out for dinner after the show. Hamza Akram is a sweetheart. I performed with Meesha for the first time and it was a really nice experience. Even though she is the most prominent figure amongst all of us but she is so nice to talk.”

Apart from being a good space for artists to have a meet and greet, Salt Arts is a free platform of expression as it mostly caters to a target audience which enjoys more a little more free-flowing content, “Performing for the cooperate shows we do come across restrictions as you know my songs are very open, Salt Arts gives a free hand in expressing yourself," concluded Pir.

Here is to hoping, Salt Arts will take notes from its attendees for this time, and come up with a grander and better-managed event in 2020.

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