Concert: Country folks having a good ol’ time

Published: June 4, 2013
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Audience enjoying the concert. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

Audience enjoying the concert. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

 A band member performs; the opening act by Natasha Humera Ejaz. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS Audience enjoying the concert. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS
ISLAMABAD: 

A refreshing retreat from local mainstream musicians, an American country band performed at The Rock Musicarium on Sunday.

Following dust-storm and drizzle, the concert kicked off at least two hours late. A large crowd of mostly youngsters filled up the steps surrounding the stage while some enjoyed the view from the overhead space.

Before the band “Blended 328” made an entrance, the home-grown talent Natasha Humera Ejaz and Shehryar Mirza kept the audience entertained with a mix of upbeat music and anecdotes. Ejaz broke into a cheesy rendition of “Pehle kabhi kabhi ghum tha,” beckoning on any fans of the Pakhto singer Rahim Shah. Mirza performed, amid other numbers, the wildly popular “Wanderlust” as the audience warmed up to this fusion of rhythms.

In the midst of flickering neon lights, intertwined sounds and people swaying side to side, the band members (Kimberly Phillips, Fran Hart and Katie Marie on vocals, Adam Stewart on fiddle, Martin Ochoa on keys and bass and Gabe Jordan on guitar) jumped centre stage. They pumped up the crowd by crooning “Pakistan Zindabad” in their very pronounced accents, before progressing to their own diverse playlist.

Perhaps “Good Ol’ Country People” came the closest to old-school country music while “That’s How We Do It” was definitely a party number, sending roars through the enthusiastic crowd. While some could be seen head-banging or air-guitaring, another group broke into bhangra-esque moves in front of the stage

True to their title, the band has blended various genres ranging from blues to reggae to soul and funk and his hybrid style forms very the essence of their music. A love for music is what has brought together the multi-ethnic members. The non-stop dancing was easily the highlight of the evening, with the vocalists prancing across the stage, singing in unison.

“It is encouraging to see international bands bring their music to Pakistan at all, it is really good of them and the organisers to do so,” said Arieb Azhar, singer and social activist. Though a bit eclectic for the Pakistani rock-loving generation, the band managed to keep the show going with their own groove. The concert was organised by the US Embassy.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2013.

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