Come As You Are: The Return of Band Culture

Aaroh Black n White

It should not start off as a sob story. It probably isn’t. I cannot promise a happy ending though. A moral at the end of it is imminent for those who are wary of the course. Many thousands of years ago, the genus homo sapiens introduced music. Darwinists claim it was driven out of need. Religious theologians claim it was evolved out of a prophetic mission in the Abrahamic realm. Whatever maybe the context, pockets of civil societies loomed around it associating it as a source of entertainment. Psychologically speaking, music did speak volumes without saying a word. Later on it would be derived as an art-form which required skill, practice and good tonal sensibility. Thus began its evolutionary cycle into a universal language that needn’t be spoken.

Different eras defined a genre of music that an entire repertoire of musicians would play. In the 60’s a new type was discovered in the west that would take up the name ‘rock’. A rock act would require at least four members: a vocalist, a lead guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. As opposed to barber-quartets and jazz ensembles, these musicians had much rawer energy to offer. Subsequently an entire age of rock bands would be formed.

Source: Wikkipedia Commons

Pakistan would be facing a culture shock in the same timeline. With a range of diverse cultures came indigenous musical acts that focused mainly on folk and/or eastern classical music. The Pakistani cinema would be fighting to compete with its annexed neighbour to establish an identity of its own. The theme would go on to be similar for lack of a better muse. Film music would be redefined fishing out newer acts to perform music that was less strained with vocal acrobatics and focused more on simpler melodies.

Rock music waited at bay to pierce through but would be waved off as ‘noise’. Acts like ABBA and The BeeGees with their catchy disco beats and bass-lines would become more ‘acceptable’. Renegade acts like Pink Floyd with their psychedelia fuelled music would also become more popular. Rock in its purest form still had miles to travel. The late 80’s saw to its proliferation. Junoon became the number one contender to kingly presence. Strings tried here and there to bubble in some U2 inspired music.

In the early 2000’s the Noori brothers would bring in some hard-rock to the forefront, or at least what came close to it that was equally commercially successful. Jal the band would also create the legend that Atif Aslam is today. Tapping into this newly formed band culture, Pepsi rushed to oust Coke as a staple cold drink for a robust majority by introducing Pepsi Battle of the Bands. Here are a few bands that gained fame thanks to Pepsi’s esoteric enterprise, broke up and are now making their comeback:

1. Aaroh

Aaroh made their comeback in this season of Pepsi Battle of the Bands. They have also released a new single that has the thump that any comeback would need. With the passing away of one of their founding members, the late Haider Hashmi in 2014, had the already parted members wondering if a return was possible. This was soon to change as Asad Ul Hafeez joined the ensemble. The band is known for its semi-classical vocals and hard rock guitar riffs, fused together to create an amalgam of both east and west. Their rendition of Habib Jalib’s Main Nahin Manta was released a week ago.

2. Entity Paradigm (EP)

EP has witnessed many breakups over the 17 years period that marked them as an astounding act. Even though Fawad Khan did bank on his looks more than his vocal ability during their hit years; EP did have some lasting melodies. Ahmad Butt did try to sound like Mike Shinoda, to ascertain EP’s presence as a locally crafted Linkin Park derivative, but did not come close. When Fawad Khan embarked on his acting journey with Khuda Kay Liye, the band was disbanded due to differences caused by that. Ahmad Butt tried his luck in becoming a comedian, but had the wits of a five year old. The band’s return in Pepsi Battle of the Bands had their fans all geared up for a solid performance. Whether they were able to deliver it or not, it is crucial to notice that the band is actually performing on a prerecorded track.

3. Call

The Junaid Khan-Xulfi combo had always been a showstopper. Call did not attain much fame until their song ‘Laaree Chooti’ became an instant hit in India, and was remixed several times (which defines a song’s popularity). The band disbanded shortly after it as Junaid Khan went into acting in soap operas, and Xulfi went on to create Nescafe Basement. This year on Pepsi Battle of the Bands the band reunited and gave a stellar performance that had the audience at the edge of their seats

4. Junoon

Junoon needs no introduction. The trio of Salman, Ali and Brian made waves worldwide and had Indian bands like Euphoria inspired to create ‘Maeri’. Junoon is still the largest selling band of Pakistan in terms of both shows, albums and merchandise. The trio broke up over creative differences in 2005. Their return is rumoured in 2018. Ali Azmat has however not given any credible statement over the matter

Band culture in Pakistan is slowly fading away. Rarely does a band attain limelight on the same level that these aforementioned oldies did. To kick-start this archaic but effective machinery a revival of band culture is necessary.

Resuscitating old legends could be a possible solution, but should not be the only one that works. Pepsi BOB fractured a floodgate that needed no closing in the first place. It is time to hammer it down.

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