We need more small, intimate gigs in Pakistan, not big commercial ones
Tiny Dancer Live is an initiative to bring back smaller, more intimate gigs to our cities.
In our saturated music industry with perfectly composed visuals, high-contrast videos, HDR filters that are launched through branded digital ad campaigns of pointless promos and fluff teasers, we have become desensitised to the efforts and struggles of independent musicians. Talent has taken a back seat and what we are facing now is an epidemic of commercially digestible music. The rapidly released tracks that are recommended on Youtube to us now are dominated by remixed bollywoodised renditions of our regional and ancestral musical legacy. A revival of musical storytelling and reconnecting with a live audience is needed to restore the value of language in music. Understanding a musicians process requires we see them for who they really are. Perhaps this is only possible in an intimate crowd.
That’s where Tiny Dancer Live comes in. TDL is a performance management and concert series curated by Natasha Humera Ejaz, a dedicated music producer currently working on her own music, film soundtracks, she is part of an 8 member vocal ensemble called Gintaara and creates electronic music under the moniker Stupid Happiness Theory. Bringing back the traditional format of intimate musical shows, she is collaborating with Blackbox Sounds that has opened its Video Production Studio for hosting regular events. For the inaugural presentation, Mekaal Hasan Band came from Lahore and played at Blackbox Sounds for three consecutive nights. Gates would open at 7:30 and at 8:00 there were special opening acts including Ejaz herself, Natasha Noorani, Nimra Gilani and Ali Hamdani.
We need to support our independent musicians and participate in actively creating a music community determined to make a difference no matter the cost. A genuineness and a legacy of inspiration for upcoming young voices can be felt in the live performance of Mekaal Hasan Band. With iconic songs like Sawal, Sajan, Sampooran and Chal Bulleya, that fill an entire room with the orchestral atmosphere. I feel fortunate to have witnessed a closeup performance including the original members Mekaal Hasan and Mohammad Ahsan Papu. There are new additions to the band with vocalists Rassab Amir and Asad Awais, who gave a faithful and honest performance. The supportive basslines of Waleed Attique to the oscillating drums by Daud Ramay. The melodious keys by Tipu Khan brought an electrifying renewal to these classic tracks.
Mekaal Hasan Band has a unique sound that blends the east with the west. They have been perfecting their craft for over a decade. A fortress of musical labyrinths that mesmerise their listeners MHB’s compositional structure remains true to their craft and spirit as Pakistani musicians. Do you remember the last time you sat so close to a rock band that you could feel the snare in your right eye and the floor tremble with the vibrato range of a passionate singer performing live in front of you? I had forgotten, until I attended their show and remembered how wonderfully tantalizing it is to see a song float between skilful musicians, each inviting the other into a compositional crescendo, building with solos and gently queuing each other like a warm gathering around a feast.
Natasha Humera Ejaz, opened for Mekaal Hasan Band on Friday and Sunday with a blend of two distinctive sounds she creates music with, one being an acoustic guitar and the other her electronic tunes. Her performance on both days was at times soulful and serene with moments of vibrancy that make you want either sing along or dance. The opening act from the Saturday’s show was Natasha Noorani, who hails from Lahore. Noorani is an active contributor to the music ecosystem of Pakistan. She is the co-founder of Lahore Music Meet that recently completed its fifth iteration, and was a roaring success. Her performance was welcomed warmly by the audience and we hope she comes back to Islamabad in the near future to share her music with us. Nimra Gilani and Ali Hamdani performed together for the first time on stage as a duet. Ali Hamdani is part of the band Saakin with whom Nimra Gilani composed the title track of the as-yet-unreleased movie, Zindagi Tamasha, by Sarmad Khoosat. An emotional performance by the two was the perfect precursor to Mekaal Hasan Band. Starting their set with an unreleased original song by Ali Hamdmi followed by covers including “Teri Yaad” by Sajjad Ali and a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Aaye Na Balam with Ali accompanying her voice with tanpura-esque guitar playing.
This was the first showcase by Tiny Dancer Live and I wish them all the best for their future gigs and happenings. To make sure you don’t miss the next concert follow their Instagram Page @tinydancerlive
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