One of Pakistan’s finest acts, Rushk take center-stage in Karachi, play original, heart-melting melodies and remind us why they should never be discounted as a live act.
This past Sunday, the PACC in Karachi was buzzing with absorbing energy. A cool and ordinary winter night transformed into something akin to a musical adventure as one of Pakistan’s finest (underrated) music group, Rushk took center stage and played a live set for those who managed to get past the gluttonous attraction of Karachi Eat Food Festival.
Prior to the show taking off, one heard conversations ranging from neutered dogs to the music streaming site, Patari, and how it is giving music listeners a chance to find an ever-growing library of local music, bands, etc.
The show, scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm, didn’t take off until 9:00 pm as band members such as Uns Mufti (greeting fans, well-wishers and friends with a quiet smile or a generous hug) strolled outside the auditorium with a cigarette in mouth, and held on to hope that an audience would turn up. You can’t blame the band here since all of them were ready to play but had to delay the beginning due to lack of an audience.
Rushk’s faith paid off as a crowd did emerge, and despite a chunk of the audience getting swallowed by the food festival, several fans including music, theatre and television industry veterans turned up to support this inimitable band.
Zoe Viccaji, Nida Butt, Hamza Jaffri, Omran Shafique, Nieni and Faisal Rafi, Kiran Aman, Gumby, Ali Tim, Emu, Sajid Hasan, Anoushey Ashraf, Shahbaz Sumar, Qurrum Hussain aka Q of Josh were in the audience as Rushk belted out a dozen songs or more and gave the attendees an unforgettable night of music.
With Uns Mufti on guitars, Ziyyad Gulzar playing the dual role of guitarist and keyboard wizard, Sikandar Mufti on drums, M. Ali Jafri on bass and the gorgeous Tara Mehmood on vocals, Rushk took off with aplomb.
In an age where artists often choose to play the same old cover songs ad nauseum, Rushk changed gears and chose to play several of their original songs and added covers that you just didn’t anticipate. As a result, you heard music that was atmospheric post-rock magic.
From their comeback single, ‘Tujhay Patta Tou Chalay’ to ‘Mera Naam’ and the iconic ‘Behti Naar’, Rushk played songs that were connected. This was not about one long generic riff after riff or a shimmering display of wizardry over instruments. Instead, one heard songs that were enveloped in ambient grooves, funk and gripping musicianship. Though there were some technical glitches like the vocals getting overpowered by the music on occasion, Tara Mehmood’s charming persona onstage and that smoky, sultry performance made up for it all.
While the band was onstage, playing their tunes, the screen behind consisted of visuals that go beyond your average abstract and predictable psychedelic colours. From animation in red to the appearance of Sultan Rahi, the screen added to the strong lyrical poetry on display that reflects on our deteriorating humanity and internal/external violence.
Uns Mufti, on guitars, mostly had his back to the audience. In a way it was as if he was on the same journey as the attendees as the visuals played tricks on your mind.
In retrospect, one couldn’t help but note that the crowd Rushk pulled is older. Perhaps it has to do with their music because they don’t play it safe and are not singing non-stop Sufic stuff, which seems to be quite a rage nowadays.
In the end, the show was the deliverance of a promise that Rushk made to fans when the band re-emerged with new material. Rushk is more than a divine studio act. This is a band that clicks and if their gig proved anything, it’s the fact that they deserve to play on a much bigger stage.
– Photos by Kurt Menezes