JoSH, ADP & 90 Degrees... in Concert. In Karachi.

Concerts these days are often either hits or misses.

Given the nature of the current socio-political climate venues, musicians and organizers are wary of what to expect at a concert. Likewise, the people themselves also share a sense of cautiousness when going out and about. Thankfully, that wasn’t the mood when JoSH, Aunty Disco Project and 90 Degrees performed recently at a popular social club in DHA.

The concert kicked off with 90 Degrees. Though a relatively unknown band, the members of the group should be commended for performing whilst the organizers were still trying to work out the sound check. This didn’t bode well for 90 Degree’s performance as the sound was all over the place during their performance. However, the band deserved an A for Effort as not that many bands can pull off a decent cover of Sajjad Ali songs (including Sajjad Ali’s own cover of Didi by Khaled, Babiya). Also, it wasn’t just the sound check that wasn’t in favor of 90 Degrees, crowds gathered slowly at their own time at the same time being completely oblivious to the band’s performance. As for the performance itself, keeping the sound check snafu aside, 90 Degrees do show potential and promise. All they need is persistence and better opportunities to perform.

Aunty Disco Project were up next. To say that the band have had an eventful year is an understatement. After the departure of Imran Lodhi in 2008, the band parted ways with drummer Omar Khalid (amicably) recently, but at the same time, the band gained three new members and a drastic new approach to music. Rahayl Sidikey, Ali Alam and most recently their new drummer Giles Goveas are all part of the band and their contributions/sound does leave a distinct departure from the ADP people knew. The once hardcore underground band with its own unique purist sound was now easing up to sound of commercialism—albeit on their own terms.

ADP kicked off the show with their magnum opus, “Sultanat.” A song that has evolved as the band has, however it remains their signature tune and a distinct crowd favourite. “Likhta nahin mein” and “Raat Jaga” were next, both songs in a rather quick succession. The sound reflected a much hungrier ADP who were eager to have the crowd’s attention no matter what. Finally, just when the pace was set high, ADP pulled back a notch for the slow and melancholy song that is “Nazar.” Things picked up again with “Janay Waley” and “Hum Na Rahein” by now the crowd was really getting into the performance. A particular note to “Janay Waley”, a song from their upcoming album, showcases a much more up beat approach to music if compared to the likes of “Sultanat” and “Nazar” even though most of their songs were already quite upbeat from before. Coalescing around the stage, ADP certainly had their attention. The band closed their set with “Mujhay Sahara Do” another oldie that had been revamped. The ADP that performed that night was most certainly a brand new ADP and if this gig is an example, or taste if you will, of things to be expected from the new ADP album, then it is definitely an album to watch out for.

Finally, we come to the headliners, JoSH. Roop and Q have graced the shores of this coastal city quite often. They were part of the recent Coke Studio and have always had memorable gigs here. This show appeared no less, the moment JoSH took stage, there was a surge in the crowd. Everybody who hadn’t joined in whilst 90 Degrees or ADP performed, came rushing forward to greet the band onstage. It wasn’t just their musical performances that had the crowd going, their interaction with the crowd was on another level entirely. Roop and Q both took turns speaking/interacting with the crowd, so much so to have a playful competition between the two of them, just to see who would get the crowd worked up better. JoSH performed “Kabhi kabhi”, “Mausam”, “Sauda”, “Mahi Ve”, “Khaike Pan Banaras Wala” and a host of other songs. However, a particularly touching moment occurred in the concert when Q took a moment to reflect that he was in fact performing in a very special city; his birthplace. He also dedicated the concert to his mother, who was also present backstage.

Finally, the night was complete. The organizers of the show, Studio Maxx Presentations and a popular watch manufacturer, had managed the show reasonably. The security was excessive but not overbearing. The concert wasn’t on time, but it wasn’t drastically late either.

A pleasant gig with some great performances, a couple more of these and the Karachi concert scene will be right back on track.

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