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Bringing down the house...again

December 29, 2008


The Munchkins make their comeback with a bang!

They were performing after a gap of almost two years. For those not in the know, the Munchkins is a cover band that originally comprised Luis J. Pinto aka Gumby on drums, Ali Jafri on bass, Murtaza Jafar aka K.V. on lead and Aamir Alavie on vocals. They got the name by first performing in a popular donut and coffee place, where little snacks or munchkins were also on the menu. Before their two-year sojourn, the band used to perform once, maybe twice a year, and soon amassed a cult following. There were even some who would follow the band through every performance — the Munchkin regulars. They performed covers of music that the band members loved; from the Police, Maroon5, Michael Jackson, Seal, Rolling Stone and who not.

The band announced their return, a much-awaited Munchkins gig, via Facebook. They always relied on word of mouth through which to spread the news about their gigs and so far it has always worked. This time, however, the line-up was slightly different and instead of Ali Jafri there was Khalid Khan on bass. A somewhat shy but gifted bassist, Khalid has been playing the bass guitar for over 10 or so years and is currently a permanent member of the band Aaroh.

Another change this time around was also the introduction of an opening act, which was none other than the Aunty Disco Project (ADP). With Imran Lodhi away at college out of the country, the current ADP lineup consists of Yasir Quraishi on darbuka, Omar Bilal Akhtar (Oba) on lead guitar and vocals, Ali Alam on bass and vocals and Omar Khalid (OK) on drums.

During ADP`s performance, the sound levels seemed oddly out of sync which lked to the instruments and the vocals sounding all over the place. Among other songs, they performed the popular Sultanat as well as Oba`s solo single, the haunting Nazar. Some female members in the audience thought to add to the atmosphere by collectively singing a note or two with him, which invited laughter from the rest. They also tried their hand at covers, one of which was Baba O`Reily by The Who. Disappointingly, they didn`t perform the signature guitar solo that comes towards the end of the song.

Another thing that has to be mentioned here is that Oba literally seemed to take it upon himself to embody the spirit and the enthusiasm of the entire band. He jumped numerous times on the tiny little stage while performing with expressions that were determined to force his fervor on the audience — whether they liked it or not — and he swung his arm repeatedly around the guitar. Unfortunately, at a venue such as the PACC and with songs that didn`t match his passion for exhibitionism, his `performance` seemed very much over the top.

Munchkins isn`t interested in introducing itself onto the mainstream media as according to previous statements they`re a bunch of people who come together to play the kind of music they love. With a yell announcing their return they performed popular numbers such as Sleep Now in the Fire and Testify by Rage Against the Machine, Give It Away by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin among others. Perhaps it is also nostalgia that contributes to the magic of their performance as most of the audience members could be seen singing along.

Guest musicians also performed this time around. Abbas Premjee was called in to play in Maria Maria by Santana. Abbas`s virtuosity at the guitar seemed to make his performance (he even held the guitar in the classical position) almost effortless and several members of the audience could be seen swaying to it.

The Munchkins performed Pink Floyd as well. I Wish You Were Here seemed like the prequel to the Floyd timeless classic, Comfortably Numb, which was also the last song of the evening. Maaz Maudood from the band Kaavish was called on stage to collaborate on the song and although when one had reservations when his name was announced, he performed quite well.

Quite a few well-known faces turned up for the performance. One could spy from a distance producer Faisal Rafi and his wife Neinei, Nadey Ali Zaidi who is currently working on his first album and his brother Jafar Zaidi from the band Kaavish. Musician Tariq Mirza (Tee-M) was present as well as Ehtishaam (E.T.) from the band Azal, model Bilal Khan and Rohail Hyatt along with his wife Umber Hyatt.

One missed some of the Munckins signature performances such as Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, This Love by Maroon5, Wish You Were Here by Incubus, Crazy by Seal (the lead vocalist was careful to mention in their last performance that he was not a fan of Alanis Morisette`s version of this song) among a host of others.