The fourth Lahore Music Meet (LMM) may have established that this musical event will continue for years to come. Last year’s fest had many security and soundcheck issues, so it was refreshing to see that the LMM this year has made a huge impact.
As always, the grandeur of the Al Hamra Arts Council stood out from a distance. Hip and retro style posters of the LMM and Patari hung about adding to the aura, and colourful decorations adorned the lawns. Strobe lights at certain music stalls acted as natural attractions and people streamed in all day long to gawk at the incredible ambience of festivity. Many just stood along the gates peeping in, but once they discovered that the festival was free for all with only an ID card and a copy needed to enter, they also strode in.
Day One was mostly about a host of people filtering in and out of the gate. But while last year there were talks by rock star Ali Azmat and maestro Sajjad Ali, this year the superstars were the Battle of the Bands (BOTB) winner, Kashmir.
Even the discussions were tighter and more focused, including masterclasses on western percussion, violin and synth among others.
The reason behind Lahore Music Meet being more of a hit this year is because there were live performances happening out in the open with some great sound quality
But the two days’ real highlights included a screening of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary Song of Lahore — about the Sachal Jazz Ensemble — and a concert by Kashmir.
Perhaps the reason for the LMM being more of a hit this year lies in the fact that there were live performances happening out in the open the whole day with some great sound quality. Those growing up during the ’90s were probably the last to know about the live concert and underground scene. But today most music is digital, and whatever live music there is, it is restricted to private playing. So the live shows were thoroughly appreciated.
On the first day Roots enthralled everyone with their edgy music and vocals followed by Mauj. In the biggest of the three halls, there were performances by Akhtar Chanal Zehri and indie folk-rock band Sikandar Ka Mandar. Outside, in the ‘Showcase’ (lawn) apart from Roots/Wisdom Salad and Mauj there were Alien Panda Jury, Sunny Khan Durrani, Fazal Jatt and Sami Ansari. On the second day, Gorakh Danda, a cover of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan by Basement band Bayaan was also a huge hit. The song cut across all kinds of listeners at the concert.
An interesting session — titled ‘Capturing Moments in Music’ — on the techniques of photographing musical artists was also held with photographer Mobeen Ansari on the first day.
Later in the ‘Showcase’, Kashmir’s performance saw more people than expected. The place was jam-packed, people jumping in excitement, (especially after singer Bilal Ali jumped around on stage). It was inevitable for many to raise their hands and make the ‘rock on’ sign. Overall, the performance by the six member band was excellent and very energetic. While the rest of their songs were appreciated anyway, it was their cover of the iconic Aamir Zaki number Mera Pyar that had had everyone singing along with Kashmir.
Song of Lahore, which has not yet been made available anywhere for the public, was screened on Day Two. The Q&A session on Day One had been cancelled because Chinoy did not come. However, she didn’t turn up on Day Two either. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the documentary had scenes which seemed over-directed, Chinoy’s film struck a chord with audiences, partly because she did not miss out on punctuating the film with emotions in the right places and, knowing the importance of humour, she purposely kept some of the very spontaneous and hilarious remarks made by the musicians as they were being filmed.
Of course, music was the whole point of the film, and slowly we see how a bunch of down-and-out musicians who have struggled to find jobs in the music industry are first inducted in the Sachal Orchestra by businessman and (jazz) music lover Izzat Majeed and, then later, how they end up performing with the great trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his big band.
Ultimately, however, the show was stolen by Kashmir. Kashmir’s Q&A session was packed as well. They spoke about how important it is to be passionate about music and how BOTB had helped in promoting the art of playing live rather than recordings. They spoke of their influences ranging from the psychedelic, art rock of Pink Floyd and mellower Coldplay down to the edgy Radiohead and punk-influenced Arctic Monkeys.
Later in the ‘Showcase’, Kashmir’s performance saw more people than expected. The place was jam-packed, people jumping in excitement, (especially after singer Bilal Ali jumped around on stage). It was inevitable for many to raise their hands and make the ‘rock on’ sign. Overall, the performance by the six member band was excellent and very energetic. While the rest of their songs were appreciated anyway, it was their cover of the iconic Aamir Zaki number Mera Pyar that had everyone singing along with the band.
The band then concluded their ‘mini’ concert with Kaaghaz Ka Jahaz which again was joined in by the audience. The audience’s identification with a relatively new song just goes to show how much impact BOTB has made.
Published in Dawn, ICON, January 14th, 2018