The Bands are Back! (Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Episode 1 Review)


By Ali Gohar

I was waiting like no other since the time I heard Pepsi Battle of the Bands is coming back. Partly because I want Pakistani Music to come back like a dream again for forever and mostly since everyone is missing that band culture today like in the past. The days when every member of band had his own aura, had his own style and the people used to go into lengths praising their favorite bands in the early 2000s on online discussion forums (the social media of that time).

These days many prefer to watch TV shows on YouTube in their time of comfort. I do the same but today I glued myself at dot 4 PM in front of my TV. You know the reason! The first episode of Pepsi Battle of the bands was airing on various TV channels.

Fawad Afzal Khan, the biggest excitement any music show can get, along with Meesha Shafi introduced the show. To give a nostalgic touch and making it connect with the first addition quickly, Farooq Ahmed (the voice of Aaroh) was in the team of judges. Farooq was really looking forward to the show as if he was just waiting for this opportunity to swing by. Aaroh and eP, the winner and the runners-up of the First Pepsi Battle of the Bands; fast forward 16 years and now they are found sitting on the seats of judges, what else a music lover can root for.

Now let’s come to the main part, the actual part, the people who will be making the music for coming few months; the Bands. This show is not about the solo acts. It is about the band culture pretty much like the 90s and 2000s or let’s hope even better this time.

O dear Lord, are there so many underground bands still there? Where were they? And why was a music lover not able to enjoy them?

A total of 10 bands featured in the first episode aired on July 30th, 2017. Most of them sounded very mature and raw at the same time. Thankfully the format was obviously a full on plugged performance which was edited correctly not making it dragged.

The first band was Naqsh. Not again; my first impression was that a female vocalist is added just to give a band a commercial touch and to somewhat stand out. Thankfully Mehak did well and seemed well synced with the band. The song selection was good as they covered a pop-rock version of Bolo Bolo (originally sung by Sajjad Ali).

Positive, the next band was in the top 10 of the first Pepsi Battle of the Bands sixteen years ago. Sadly both Farooq and Fawad were not able to recall them but that happens. A lot has happed since then. They had a tabla player in the band too which made Farooq (Aaroh) going into a trance. Let’s hope they do better this time.

Another band, Jasim & the Pindi Boys, looked raw and with a lot of spark. They did a nicely knitted original “Pindi Boys” which went viral back in 2014.

Kashmir, simply blew Fawad’s socks away as they covered Hamesha (originally by eP). Fawad was super impressed and looked enjoying more and judging less whilst the performance lasted. Next contestant, Bari the band was a 2 member band and performed the cover of Yaarah by Aaroh. Unfortunately, the band couldn’t impress the judges and would hopefully come back stronger next year.

I was personally not much impressed by Shajr the band as the sound was more practiced and less original but let’s not be hard on a band which is there for just about 2 years as yet. Soul Anesthetics looked like Fuzon in the first look but couldn’t impress with their performance. Aura was successful in impressing the judges by their original and the cold play inspired sound (not completely).

Fawad and other judges were impressed with Vital Signs cover of OB Positive, but well not me. May be it is me who is more attached to the original. Farooq recalled Amir Zaki’s statement where he told Farooq “less is more” and said that this performance is the perfect example of his words applied in the real world.

Overall, All Judges were subtle and not so hard with their comments on the bands. Thankfully they looked very crisp, realistic and not loud just for the sake of gaining TRPs. I hope Ayesha Omer as a host comes up stronger in the episodes to come.

The hopes are really high from this TV show and they have set the tone right. There is not much happening in the local music scene and being over cynical is not going to help.  We need such a show right now and all credit goes to Pepsi for bringing back the bands culture again.

In case you missed the episode on TV, watch it below:

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