LAHORE: A live music performance is always an interesting event to mark on social calendars. Unfortunately, they have become somewhat of an anomaly in Pakistan, with growing security concerns and lack of proper public spaces discouraging local musicians from holding shows.
In the midst of such circumstances stands Farhad Humayun, front man of the band Overload, who has been advocating live performances throughout his career. In fact, he has done more than just complaining, holding impromptu performances with his band at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market Lahore’s Mall One and Anarkali.
He has now teamed up with a clothing brand to conduct one gig every month, at his own studio. “All of Pakistan’s music seems to have shifted to TV. If you want to watch a movie, you can go to the cinema. But where do you go to hear some good music?” he said.
According to Humayun, the new crop of Pakistani musicians may be very gifted but many of them are unable to play live as they have never had a chance to. “Big concerts have become one-off events and performing artists need an audience. I want to bring back live music as it was in the 1990s. Musicians from my generation can play anywhere but, sadly, I can only say that for my own generation.”
As part of the new project, Humayun hopes to host at least two or three musicians in one concert. In his words, they will comprise a headliner, a cult favourite and a newbie. “I want to invite every musician to come and play here. The first gig is scheduled for the end of September,” he shared. Humayun and his partners will also shoot the songs as they are being performed, upload the videos online and have the audio played on radio channels across the country. “We will not be competing with any other TV show out there because we already have an audience,” he clarified.
A point to note is that attendance at Humayun’s gigs will be by invitation only, taking away from the very concept of live music, which thrives on large audience numbers. “When a band comes on board, there is a responsibility resting on your shoulders — a responsibility to deliver. You cannot have a ticketed event in Lahore because there is a 65% tax and so, no one bothers paying,” explained Humayun. “Also, when you register an event, the government gives you an NoC and along with that, security. But usually, one day before the event, it announces a security threat and that’s why, we have no concerts happening here in Punjab.”
Humayun recalled an unfortunate incident from 2012 when three students died due to a stampede at an Atif Aslam concert held at Lahore’s Alhamra Cultural Complex. “If you cannot provide security to people, you cannothost a public event,” he said.
Nonetheless, Humayun’s efforts towards reviving live music in Pakistan are undoubtedly, a step in the right direction. Whether they bear any fruit or not remains yet to be seen. In the meanwhile, the musician is working on his record, which includes more English numbers like his track Give In. “The song got a great response from abroad so I will be doing more of this kind for international audiences,”