In the time of a pandemic, evolving in a far more threatening fashion than the original, people are exposed to more content digitally than ever before. The number of users, the availability of cheaper phones and internet packages from service providers has made it easy for a person to simply know what’s in and what’s out. With this notion in mind, Instep looks at what is in vogue and what isn’t.
We’re a couple of weeks into 2022, and the local music scene has never looked more in flux, or more exciting. What are we ushering out this year, and what are the tunes we will sing to?
In: Faris Shafi
Out: Other rappers
Rap music is Pakistan’s current music identity in a changing cultural context. We are producing rappers faster than the government can provide us electricity or gas. There are excellent names within the rap game including the underrated Sunny Khan Durrani or overrated Young Stunners and many others. However, within these growing towers, one man who stands out more than others is Faris Shafi. Unabashedly honest, this falcon among rappers has given terrific hits including ‘Introduction’, ‘Nazar’ and ‘Waasta’ (with Ali Sethi) among a slew of others. What Faris lacks in releases like multiple EPs, he makes up for by releasing daringly vulnerable and ferocious songs. We’re not surprised Faris Shafi is making his Coke Studio debut in its upcoming season and finding a national platform he so richly deserves.
In: Coke Studio
Out: Everyone else
A new year means music shows that have begun to erupt from channels to brands thanks to the consistent presence and success of Coke Studio. Bisconni Music returns with a second season, while at least one music channel is running a lackluster program, eerily similar to Coke Studio. Can we get with it and design shows that do not look like copycat efforts? However, with Xulfi running the show as executive producer for this season of Coke Studio, we’re pretty excited about watching the debut of several artists on the show including the one and only Faisal Kapadia, formerly of music group Strings. From mainstream giants like Atif Aslam, Ali Sethi and Meesha Shafi to newer names like Karakoram and Talal Qureshi, this is one season with the most non-conforming list, taking the music-digital-TV series in a new direction. We approve.
Okay, so technically artists will not stop releasing singles but we’re happy to notice that more and more artists are releasing EPs and LPs. A full album is the identity of an artist and tells you what their sound and story is. The entrance of newer bands and rappers has added to the repertoire of music available. From Takatak to Karakoram, Kashmir, Auj, Bayaan, Malang Party, The Sketches, Ahsan Bari – albums have helped listeners in understanding what artists stand for in a musical sphere. In 2022, a number of artists will continue to follow suit and drop EPs and LPs. Among them is boy wonder, electro-prodigy Abdullah Siddiqui, the flavourful Sounds of Kolachi and the icon-imbued Natasha Baig.
In: The emergence of local record labels
Out: The old model of record labels
The birth and growth of record labels including A for Aleph Records, Rearts Records and Push Arts clearly signal that the labels emerging today walk a progressive, supportive, collaborative road for the artists in their arsenal. They provide artists the environment they need to work on their music, while giving them that essential social media push, and organizing gigs of every magnitude.
But if you’re looking for cassettes and CDs and all that, think not. Buying merchandise by an artist that is made in limited numbers is one thing, but everything has gone digital. Even a packet received by, say a member of the press, carries - above all - a USB for the port that has replaced the Walkman and CD player by a huge margin. Merchandise of this kind also depends on artists and their marketing plan. Most acts will point you to their music online, be it Spotify or a local music app like Patari.
In: Curated concerts
Out: Random shows
Once again, random shows are not exactly out of vogue but with companies such as Salt Arts, Rearts and the newer Push Arts, we’re starting to see an uptick in music gigs that are curated thoughtfully without throwing a random number of artists together. The idea of younger acts opening for a bigger name, or shows curating an aesthetic or ideology by featuring a particular set of artists, are, by design, more meritorious in terms of the audio-visual landscape on display. It allows fans to really focus on what is being presented to them rather than a culture fair where music can be one of the many elements, but not in the seminal way Neo from The Matrix is.
In: Comeback of
The current version of the coronavirus is creating a panic that first emerged when this infectious virus did. So, following rules pertaining to coronavirus such as wearing masks shouldn’t be ignored. However, across multiple cities including the Karachi metropolis, gigs have started up again. From the likes of music’s biggest name, Atif Aslam to the new sensation, Hasan Raheem, music shows are no longer just a rarity to be enjoyed digitally. In fact, when you have the option between watching your favourite artist live or digitally, the better idea is to experience the concert with organizers making sure the atmosphere is safe enough for all genders.
In: Intimate shows
Out: Large gigs
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, it is not sensible to create a show so large that it becomes mosh-pit-friendly. An intimate concert, with a strict number of people, is a safer idea where people are not standing shoulder to shoulder but can maintain a somewhat healthy distance. It also means the staunchest of fans will buy tickets and appreciate the arresting music before them. Intimate gigs of any nature, eastern, western, or something in between, shouldn’t be held just for one vicinity or venue. A better idea would be to take them to different venues within a city or host multiple nights so those who don’t get a chance to see the show – because of X number of people allowed – can experience it as well, cutting out geographical boundaries and remembering urbanization, geographical context and divisions, capital and class struggles. Only when the music is made available to everyone will it become the pulse of the nation in true spirit.