They have yet to make a visible mark in the Pakistani pop rock industry and already, their debut video has been refused airplay by a popular music channel, the reason being its blatantly political content. Falak, a desi rock band from Canada performed to a full house at a local lounge recently.
They carry the motto “I think therefore I resist”, and coupled with the wonders of the web and loyal friends, they have already managed to amass a small but loyal fan following in Pakistan. After having seen them perform live, one can safely say that they deserve every bit of it. Overall, they have performed over 200 gigs in Canada and North America; however, this was their first gig in Pakistan.
The lineup consisted of Farid Khan on vocals and rhythm guitar and Sid (Siddiq Muhammad) on lead guitar, both the boys being Falak band members. The featured bassist of the evening was Danish Mirza and the drummer, Kaiser, who is also the drummer for Pakistani band Strings. With a backdrop that had the cover of their extended play (EP), Standard Issue and sporting Daku t-shirts, they kicked off their performance with a Falak original, Yaadein. A fun number, it was soon evident that things couldn’t have gotten louder. It was delightful to see that after a very long time, this was a performance dedicated solely to rock.
The second song, Pukaar was dominated by soft guitars, courtesy Sid. Farid sang with heartfelt emotion while belting out the line So Gaye Jo (those who slept), complemented perfectly by Sid who might as well have been playing the keyboards as every single note he played was clearly audible. Farid maintained eye contact with his audience throughout the gig as if performing to each and every person there individually.
The song that followed after was in English and written by Sid, who also provided the backing vocals for this number. It is about Karachi and has been picked up by Ammar Zaidi, the ‘chief daku’ of the Daku line, for a t-shirt he has designed based on Karachi and which has lyrics from this song printed at the back.
Besides originals, Falak also performed a rocked-up version of Nazia Hasan’s Boom Boom, trying hard to cajole the audience into joining in. What was amusing to note was that one could hear some enthusiastic attendees singing along, their voices standing out from the rest. Kaiser did a little drum solo in the middle, seemingly concentrating on the intricacies involved in soft-rock drumming, which was a pleasant change from the boom bang crash that one is normally confronted with at such events.
The band then went a little reggae with their performance, clearly having fun and launched into a cover of the popular Bob Marley song, Smoked Two Joints, which pretty soon had everyone joining in. For the ending, they fused back into Boom Boom a novel concept pulled off surprisingly well.
Farid took centre stage next and after exchanging a bit of information about the band and conversing with members of the audience while handing out free Daku t-shirts, the band launched into another Falak original, Lately, a soft, mellow number. By then, the lounge was covered with a visible layer of cigarette smoke and the lack of ventilating windows was being direly felt. The energy was pumped back into the performance with a commendable performance of String’s Sar Kiye Yeh Pahaar.
Falak’s original, Blood for Oil, based on the Iraq occupation by the US, surprisingly had a light, upbeat and catchy tune to it. And apart from the lyrics and vocal rendition, the bass line predominant in the performance clearly stood out as Danish Mirza out did himself. This particular song was simply wonderful.
They rearranged after performing this number, switching to Danish Mirza on vocals, Farid on drums and Sid on bass guitar, and performed a cover of Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls. Even though all those present sang along and appeared to be having fun, Danish’s vocals paled in comparison after Farid’s high-powered performance. However, with Sid’s support, they managed to do a decent job, helping wind down the audience considerably as this was intended to be the last song of the evening.But on popular demand, Farid and Sid performed another original, Burn. A mesmerising number, the lights at the venue were dimmed down to create adequate ambiance.
One gets the sinking feeling that like most bands who attempt to rise above the regular love/party themes, there is a chance that Falak might not get the commercial attention it deserves. On the other hand however, coupled with catchy music and good lyrical content, the band just might be able to break from the mould of mass obscurity and make it big in the local pop scene.
After the performance, when asked why they chose to carry socio-politically conscious themes in their music, Farid replied, “We feel music is a medium of expression and by simply creating discussion, it might lead to a positive change - however minute it may be”.