Pepsi Battle of the Bands Season 3 is back with a blast from the past this week as the 6th episode is themed around the golden era of the Pakistani film industry. The show kicks off with host Ayesha Omar engaged in a comedic and quirky conversation with co host Ahmed Ali Butt, who is dressed up and playing a 60s film hero, trying to create fits of laughter within the audience. The bands were also stylized in vintage fashion and performed golden greats from the film industry of Pakistan.
The show kicked off with a power packed performance from Meesha Shafi alongside her band featuring Guitarists Sherry Khattak and Mehmood (Meesha Shafi’s significant other), Farhan Ali on Bass, Kashif Parkh on Dhol and Bilawal Lahooti on the drums. It was a stunning rendition of Madam Noor Jehan’s “Koi Sarda Hai Tou Sarray”. The performance is full of power packed rhythms and riffs, coupled with Meesha’s powerful vocals. It is truly a testament and shut up call to all her critics, who question her credibility for being a judge on the show.
The first band to come up and showcase their talent was Bayaan with a mesmerizing rendition of Naheed Akhtar’s “Tha Yaqeen”. Being in the danger zone has seemed to become a norm for the band, yet they came out strong with their rendition of this filmy classic. The start of the song left us pleasantly surprised where vocalist Asfar Hussain expertly played a beautiful piece on the Rubaab, adding to the atmosphere of the song. Their rendition of Naheed Akhtar’s classic was well received by the judges and the judges complimented the band as to how they showed progress and were actually starting to sound like a complete band, all members playing their parts and gelling in their musical skills together to produce pure musical magic.
The second band to come up on stage show their colors was Xarb. Xarb has been a favorite in the competition as their music is often described by many as soul touching and soothing, especially Qamar Parvi’s voice and his command over it, displays pure showmanship from the band. This band yet again chose a female singer to cover and not just any, but the great Madam Noor Jehan. The band played a rendition of Madam Noor Jehan’s classic Punjabi number “Jhanjar Di Pawan Chankar”. The band put a retro disco vibe in their rendition and effectively embodied the powerful vocal melodies of this song within the arrangement which proved to be a deadly combination. The judges loved their take on this classic and thought that it was well thought of and done effectively as it should have.
The third performance was of the band that has been rocking the socks off of not only the judges but the wider audience alike. The music machine Tamaasha. Tamaasha has had quite a dream run in the competition so far. With three well deserved standing ovations on their electrifying performances, the bar was indeed set very high for them by the band itself. Tamaasha came out with a theatrical Broadway style version of Ahmed Rushdi’s “Tumhain Kaisay Batadun”. It had a retro 60’s rock n roll vibe to it and the boys’ attire completely suited what they were playing. It was a strong performance indeed but the judges felt that they focused more on the performance aspect rather than the musical aspect and hence the arrangement got dragged and boring because of that. The band received mixed comments but was also told that this was their own design as they had set their expectations pretty high for their own good.
The fourth and final band of the evening was 21 The Band. 21 has had a rough run, where the judges like their punk rock sound but expect more variety out of it. The band did an energetic punk rock version of Mehdi Hassan’s classic “Kabhi Main Sochta Hoon”. The rendition was true to the band’s punk rock sound, yet it seemed like it was under-rehearsed and by far the weakest performance of the night. The judges liked how they stuck to the sound they’re comfortable with but their lack of innovation within that sound bothered the judges.
It was finally decision time as to who would be the Top 2 battling out in the final for the prestigious prize of Pepsi Battle of the Bands. The first band to get eliminated was 21 The Band, which was quite expected judging by their last 2 performances which did stand weak compared to the rest. The first band to make it through to the final was Xarb and that was indeed a well deserved finish for the band. That left two powerhouse bands in the danger zone, Bayaan and Tamaasha. The battle was set with Bayaan coming forward with their best performance of the season, performing a stunning rendition of Junoon’s Azaadi. The performance saw the band truly showing its musical prowess and domination on the stage. Tamaasha came forth with funk rock rendition of Sajjad Ali’s pop number “Chief Sahab” which had the Tamaasha flavor coupled with the bands musically mastery and singer Bilal’s vocal power. The decision to pick one from both these amazing bands must have indeed been difficult for the judges but they chose to go with Bayaan, which was a fair call as Bayaan gave a stronger performance and yet again proved to be kings of dismantling the opposition in the danger zone.
Now that we have our Top 2 finalists Bayaan and Xarb, it will indeed be a battle that we will be looking forward too. Will Bayaan’s progressive sound take charge of the stage, or will Xarb’s soul soothing sing song win the hearts of the nation? The decision to crown the next big band in Pakistan is indeed in the hands of you, the people.