KARACHI / LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: Karachi: A party at Port Grand
Karachiites walking in to Port Grand on Friday evening were taken by surprise. A stage had been set up, complete with elaborate lighting. Singers walked around with guitars slung over their shoulders as they did a final sound check before the concert started.
The stage was set for Fete de la Musique (World Music Day) celebrations organised by City FM 89. “The best thing about this event is that it happens simultaneously in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,” said RJ Khalid Malik, who hosts the morning show at the radio station.
He said, “I am an eternal optimist. So I’d say any small thing that happens is good for any industry. It has a ripple effect. What you do today, bears fruit tomorrow.”
The event started almost two and a half hours late, giving people time to network while they waited. Some complained about the muggy weather, while others discussed Ali Gul Pir’s “Waderai Ka Beta”.
People photographed themselves in the place-your-face standees of Arif Lohar, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Michael Jackson set up across the venue.
As the event started, the music was able to rope in the scattered crowd — mostly consisting of teenage Kirsten Stewart look-alikes and metrosexual men.
RJ Malik hosted the show with his usual ‘absurdity’. The performances included Sara Haider, Spoonful, Children’s Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA), 7 on 3rd, Positive and Hassan Hussain.
“Despite the fact that music is a part of our culture, it is not celebrated much,” said Sara Haider, who performed in “Uth Records 2.0”. “I went to Chitral lately and saw how people love to sing and dance. To say music is entertainment would be an understatement. Music is much broader than that — it’s our culture.”
Most singers performed covers of classic Pakistani songs like “Puraani Jeans” and “Dekhaa Na Thaa” while others covered popular English tracks.
RJ Malik tried to uplift the rather sombre event with gimmicks such as asking people to dance on “Chikni Chameli” with pelvic thrusts. An elderly lady in the crowd slapped her forehead in dismay when she witnessed this, while others burst into ripples of laughter and tapped their feet to the music.
Lahore: City FM 89’s World Music Day
“We usually don’t do free shows — that’s why we never do shows,” quipped Ali Aftab, the witty member of Beyghairat Brigade, dressed in a white kurta and fitted dhoti. “We are performing because there is no electricity or light at home and the UPS is broken, so we will get 1-2 hours of AC and generator.”
On Friday night, Aftab’s was one of the major acts for this year’s World Music Day. It included performances by Poor Richboys, a reincarnated 4 Payee, and several other local acts. At the Ali Auditorium in Lahore, the night was one of hits and misses, with the hall primarily filled with bored teenagers and party-animals who were keen on either trying out embarrassing dance moves or screaming for no apparent reason.
“We take a little longer in completing our sets because I have to do my satire,” says Aftab. For most of the bands, it’s about getting a couple of songs in and showing their band’s attitude. The newcomers have to face hostile comparisons, as regulars attendees tend to compare them to the previous year’s performers.
This year’s highlights were Poor Rich Boys, Beygharite Brigade and 4 Payee. 4 Payee now has a reinvented sound which tends to resonate with the audience, after they spent the last year being predominantly known as a percussion band.
“We were initially known as a free-style drumming band, but that gets boring after several minutes. So we started a phenomenon called garage band which combines the drumming with conventional instruments which we hope people will like,” said band member Nabeel.
Overall, City FM 89’s World Music Day is one of the few times in the year that music fans are allowed to travel back into a special time where Lahore’s scattered underground music scene is brought together on one stage.
Islamabad: Where’s the after party?
Celebrations catapulted the city’s youth to the Islamabad Club, but the auditorium, which seems better suited for plays and maybe a symphony, didn’t allow the young to dance, headbang or mosh-pit freely.
Most attendees didn’t seem to mind the seating arrangement. One of the audience members, 23-year-old Bilal, an advertising executive, told The Express Tribune that he wasn’t up for much physical activity but just wanted to enjoy the music after his 9-5 job. “It’s just relaxing to sit back and enjoy what the city has to offer,” he said.
In the midst of a plethora of baggy jeans, the fashionably skinny-jeaned and manicured few also enjoyed just sitting back and not breaking a sweat in their perfectly ironed hair.
Rimsha and her crew from Westminster School and College Islamabad whispered and blushed as they spotted their respective crushes from school. She said: “The music’s good but it’s the after parties that are more exciting.” The gang were planning on going out for shisha in a big group and then to a friend-of-a-friend’s party later.
Acoustic cover act Maria Fatima Unera Qureshi set the perfect tone for the night by doing fun renditions of popular songs like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”. Following were D-rockracy — a rock band who performed well with inventive lyrics as cheeky as their name.
In the midst of newbies, Lahu with their duly-earned popularity closed the night off with a great set that showcased each band member’s musical ability.
Despite the anxiety seen in many of the audience members concerning what they would be doing after the event, the offerings of the performing youth were much enjoyed and appreciated (especially given the city’s ‘three degrees of separation’) with many in the audience personally knowing the performers.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.