Given the country’s current state of affairs and fast deteriorating foreign policy, it’s a relief knowing that against all odds, the music industry is still forging ahead. People willingly brave dengue mosquitoes and security blockades for a shot at hearing or jamming to their favorite bands and tunes — a testament to local endurance.
This is what happened on Friday night at Kuch Khaas centre for Arts and Culture as bands Saturn and Qayaas rocked the outdoor stage. The weather may have cooled down, but these musicians were hot and energetic; their fans, absorbing the vibe, were jumping, dancing, moshing and head-banging, a far cry from their usual docility.
The first performance was by Saturn, comprising of lead guitarist Salman Zaidi, lead vocalist Shahbaz Zaidi, drummist Shahbaz Asad, bassist Aashir Irfan and Rawal Shadab on the keyboard. In comparison to the established Qayaas, Saturn may come off a little ‘young’ but what this band lacks in experience they make up for in high energy, strong vocals and infectious musicianship, playing crowd pleasers like “Mein” and covers of System of a Down’s “Toxicity,” as well as Vital Sign’s “Dil, Dil Pakistan”.
After Saturn’s closing number, Zaidi said, “The members of Qayaas are senior musicians. I’ve grown up listening to them.” Produced by the noted Sarmad Ghafoor (also the producer for Saturn and Irtaash), Qayaas appeared after their eponymous introduction — their on-stage presence immediately palpable. The members — Umair Jaswal (vocals), Khurram Waqar (guitar), Sarmad Ghafoor (guitar), Shahreyar Ghayas (bass) and Fifu (Salman Rafique- drums) — are old hands at the game. Jaswal, an impressive vocalist, knows how to hold a rock tune and oozes confidence. Again, the crowd roared and grooved to original tracks like “Sherezade”.
The Express Tribune caught up with Saturn’s Shahbaz Zaidi for a quick chat.
Were you pleased with tonight’s performance?
Zaidi: We loved it and were really happy about the turnout and response. People actually still like and appreciate rock these days, which is great for us.
How did it feel to open for Qayaas?
Zaidi: Well, we haven’t toured with them yet, but they are amazing. They really are seasoned musicians and we’ve all grown up listening to them. They’re a major inspiration for us.
You opened with “Mein”. What can you tell us about it?
Zaidi: We do get a little political with our songs. This one’s basically about losing your identity — which is something we work with for a lot of our songs — and not really knowing who you are. It’s a commentary on the nature of ‘identity’.
How’s the album coming along?
Zaidi: We’re looking for a label now and have enough tracks at this point for a full blown album.
Zaidi: Well, we’re working on our next video. It’s for “Sargoshian.” We sang it at the concert; it was the second last song. I’d describe it as a ballad. We’re still in the brainstorming phase so stay tuned.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.