By Ali Gohar
Many folks including me are super happy that the bands are back. Taking nothing away from the local gurus of pop and play back, we always missed the band culture in last one decade atleast when almost all the bands finally disbanded or almost faded away leaving behind only Strings, that too only focusing on Coke Studio.
Last year was relatively a good year in general for Pakistan’s music, Strings announced another album and started releasing more music, Call band re-united, Coke Studio did decently well, Cornetto Pop Rock produced good music (though stayed low profile and unnoticed as usual) and many others kept on releasing singles. But the breath of fresh air was Pepsi Battle of the Bands. It brought back the band culture, new tunes and at least 3-4 bands in the lime light.
This year’s Pepsi Battle of the Bands (PBoBs) came back stronger. So much so, the selection of Top 8 was tight. Well, yeah, there was some hue and cry over Meesha Shafi still in and Ali Zafar out in mere unresolved and unproven allegations but, well that’s how it is now. The season was produced by Shahi Hassan who enjoys a lot of respect in the young lads. Though he received some criticism on the mix of the songs from music critics who believe that the songs could have gone a long way but the post production let them down.
The best feature of the PBoBs was the Mature-Pakistani-Format. Judges were not bashing participants for cheap rating like we see in many Indian reality shows. The overall format was solid. Judges were not meaninglessly fighting with each other just to attract more audience and YouTube hits. Fawad, Meesha, Farooq and Strings behaved maturely, professionally and were kind to bands throughout. Though at times there was difference in opinion between Bilal Maqsood and Fawad Khan but they both dealt it pretty nicely giving the audience a thing or two to learn as well.
Tamahsa turned up as the most famous amongst the lot but it ended up pretty much same like Jasim & the Pindi Boys of last season. Well, they have earned enough limelight which will give them enough inertia to take it from here.
After all the rounds and a lot of continued excitement, Bayaan and Xarb clashed in finals. Again, both remained sensible in all their campaign and kept on praising each other throughout. Again, these things give the youth good role models.
Here comes a Big-Flash-Back; remember the time when Coke Studio was ceiling the popularity and some unknown boys and girls were jamming in basement? Dozens of young musicians and instrument players were having a time of their lives with a mentor like Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan a.k.a Xulfi and all of them were producing crazy music and memories. This was the time when Mansoor, Haider, Asfar, and Shahrukh were jamming their heart out with other musicians. No one knew where the fate will eventually take them; as the winners of Pepsi Battle of the Bands Season 3 winning them album, royalty and video contracts. Slowly but surely these guys made their ways into the finals and they looked sharp, polished, down to earth, well behaved in short a complete package throughout. It had a lot to do with the mentorship they previously received in Nescafe Basement from their ace mentor Xulfi.
Other than Bayaan many other musicians from the basement were a part of PBoB one way or the other. We saw Sherry Khattak, Bilawal Lahooti, Omair Farooq and others either part of some band or playing for appearances with Meesha Shafi, Atif Aslam, Call, Shahi Hassan in this season and the previous season.
Nescafe basement is apparently closed down, we don’t know the inside story but maybe they thought it’s not giving them quick returns. Well, sounds like it was a blessing in disguise as these folks came out the contract and formed Bayaan which has given the spot light from the heavens. But we are sure some heads back there in Nestle (Nescafe Basement) must be thinking that it could all have been their moment. Somebody else believed in what in fact they should have. The dream had to face the light of the day any way.
Taking nothing away from Pepsi Battle of the Bands, they have done very well in giving these young talents a giant platform. They deserve appreciation. They need to stay. May be there is a lot of room for improvement, people expect better post production of songs in future but in a larger picture, well done Team BoB. Kudos for giving us, the listeners a joy ride. We all need the bands back in Pakistan.