It's good to be Aunty Disco Project

Last weekend Aunty Disco Project performed for two back to back nights as Omar Bilal Akhtar, Yasir Qureshi, Ali Alam, Rahayl Sidikey and Giles Goveas took to the stage at the PACC in Karachi. And if that wasn’t enough, the following night they were featured on Coke Studio 3 (CS3). It’s safe to say things are definitely looking up for them.
The concert made for a very intimate show. It’s something that ADP has always excelled at — the band members always talk, cajole and have fun with their audience. It hardly matters to them if people show up or not because ADP fans are always there near the stage to cheer them on.

Being sponsored by a popular audio equipment company has its perks — the band had at its disposal a state-of-the-art sound system and they were their own sound engineers. Instead of having to rely on somebody else, they could tweak their own sound on the go.

The sound itself was quite remarkable, though at times Yasir’s darbuka seemed to drown amongst the rest of the music. However, the bass, which often tends to drown out, was quite prominent. Overall, the sound was very good considering it was a small stage.

The 15-song playlist that the band performed that night included Dastaan-i-Dil, Raat Jaagi, Jaane Wale, Hum Na Rahe, Mujhe Sahara Do and Kisi Aur Kay Intezar that showcased its new sound. Even established tunes like Sultanat and Nazar were performed. Joining them on these performances was all-round musician Miqdaad Mohammad on the saxophone. His subtle influence was something that really infused life into the concert.

Ali Alam also performed a special song that he wrote some 10-odd years ago. Citing that Kitnay Vaday still reflects present times, he said it only made sense to play it today.

They performed a bunch of covers that were very interesting: Madonna’s Like A Prayer (a rocked-up version), a funky cover of Chromeo’s Night by Night, and a very special cover featuring DJ Talal Qureshi (Yasir’s brother) of Aerosmith’s and Run DMC’s Walk Like This. They closed the set with a medley of great hits which drew cheers from the crowd.

These past few years, ADP has taken a visible 180-degree turn on its vision by shirking away from record companies, relying heavily on radio plays, bringing out their own album, etc. The band had a much more rebellious attitude then than it has now. They’ve worked hard to come this far, getting gigs such as CS.

But all has not been well on this journey. After an amicable split with Imran Lodhi who then left for Canada for further studies, the remaining band members could not imagine that they would never see him ever again — the singer-songwriter passed away in Canada earlier this year. Drummer Omar Khalid also parted ways with the band to settle abroad. Rather than fall with the hits, the band mustered on, drawing in not two but three replacements —Ali Alam (singer-songwriter), Rahayl Sidikey (bass) and Giles Goveas (drums). This drastic change would ultimately have an effect on ADP. The beats are now stronger, the songs more melodic and the band actually sounds more rock than it has ever before. Especially more towards the ’90s rock.

Ali Alam brings in his own songwriting aspect to the band which only compliments Omar Bilal Akhtar’s skills.
Rahayl on the bass sets the pace of every song. Being an established bass player, he was the much-needed missing piece that the band now finally has. Also, we’re getting to hear more of Yasir on percussions and the darbuka. He’s a unique element to the band and it’s his input that sets the band apart from the rest. Not to tread over Omar Khalid’s drumming for the band, but Giles approach is much more intense. His beats are packed with layers that help bring about the rock in each of the songs they perform.

ADP’s CS3 performance was far better than some of the established bands we’ve seen. Rather than playing a cover — which others have crashed and burned on — it played its own anthem, Sultanat, which has matured along with the band over the years. The changes reflected in it ultimately reflects upon the band itself. Gone is the melancholy-esque rock track; instead the tempo is slightly upbeat and the rock turned up all the way to 11. They’ve extended the song, given it a middle, thrown in a great solo and given each band member the power to flex his music muscles.
After a rather bleak second episode of CS, all it took was a bunch of Aunties to bring the music back! After all, it’s a band like ADP that really brings out the essence of Coke Studio. Young band, wide audience, established producer; you just can’t go wrong with that mix.

So all in all, quite a good week for the band. And to top it all off, they are all hard at work on a new album. It’s not over for the Aunties just yet.