Live music and a whole bunch of enthusiastic music lovers — independent music received a fresh and exciting tribute at Lahore’s Peeru Café. An all-day music festival ‘Storm in a Teacup’ brought together the best of independent artistes and bands from across the country. The event, which started on a bright Sunday afternoon, lasted through the night as avid listeners drank in the beats.
True Brew record’s CEO Jamal Rahman, who has been a driving force in giving Indie music a platform to flourish within Pakistan, shared that he had to pull a lot of strings in order to put together this event. “Storm in a Teacup, was a bigger step forward in my pursuit of really pushing the live music scene in Pakistan, that I first started with my Live at True Brew shows,” he said. “For Storm in a Teacup, our focus was on the young, independent music scene, where we promoted Indie artists who came from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, just for this festival.”
Peeru Café, located in the heart of The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, was undoubtedly the perfect venue for such a venture, since it is designed to cater to live music and crowds of young people in search of a good time. Also, considering that independent artists strongly feel the main issue in promoting Indie music is creating space for it, the event proved to be a perfect platform.
“This is something that most bands wanted to do and it’s finally happened. I have visited Lahore and have lived in Karachi, but I have never been to anything like this, so for me it’s a really exciting experience,” said Talha Wynne of Orangenoise. “This connects you with other musicians. As a musician you shouldn’t be isolated from other musicians’ perspectives, especially if they are bringing something new to the table.”
The audience comprised mainly of young people who were well-connected with the Indie music scene and hence, stuck around till the very end. Usman Sarwar, who was attending with a group of friends, explained that from the audience’s perspective, these bands had a niche market of listeners and it’s not something easy for the masses to swallow. “This is not a venue that you can open to all of Lahore, but there are enough, good musicians here, who have offered some very original sounds and have a very avid following,” said Sarwar.
The event made quite an impression in terms of the scale and variety of acts performed. The stand-out performances were by Poor-Rich Boy and the Toothless Winos, whose exclusive following seemed to articulate the ethos behind the festival — simply getting a bunch of people together and enjoying various forms of music. The show also included performances from Orangenoise, Sikander Ka Mandar, Shajie, Ali Suhail, Red Blood Cat, Lower Sindh, Jumbo Jatt and the Swing Orchestra.
“When it comes to our music, the tough time is right now! We have come all the way from Karachi on our own money but, Jamal has really done a great job in arranging this event,” remarked Saad Shams of Jumbo Jatt.
The basic idea has clearly been creating an interconnected network where each of these bands, or musicians have an opportunity to pursue their music styles independently. In Karachi, the young men have a small musical community by the name of Lussun TV, which is run by Nadir Shahzad Khan and organises small gigs at even smaller venues.
“We have not played at a concert this big since our last college gig, which was at SZABIST in Karachi a couple of years ago. So it’s pretty hard because big arena concerts cannot happen and that is the only way bands can get their music out,” added Shams.
The variety of music offered was the highlight of the festival, but according to Jumbo Jatt, another major concern is that audiences are not accustomed to this much musical diversity. However, the band believes that the general attitude towards their music is changing.
“People are becoming more receptive. This new movement has started to show people that different styles of music do exist. It is not just limited to bhangra or Indian songs, in fact, there is a lot of unique music and hopefully more acts will be uncovered through such festivals,” said Ali Sohail of Jumbo Jatt.
While it may appear that the independent music scene still has a long way to go, Rahman is determined and has a lot planned for the future. “At True Brew, I have a lot more exciting live music planned for 2014 along with a fresh take on music for feature films and singles and I look forward to sharing this with everyone later this year,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2014.