When good times go bad
By Shaiba Rizwan
With hardly any nightclubs or dance halls in Pakistan, concerts are the only events where people can dance and let their hair down. Sadly, though, the majority of concerts in Pakistan are unruly affairs where chaos goes hand in hand with music.
Most of the trouble is caused by hordes of teenage boys, who gatecrash concerts, or buy cheap back-row tickets and then force their way to the front, where seats are more expensive.
Hooting, obnoxious dancing, trampling on toes, fistfights, shoving and groping are very common at concerts. At times, the crowd can be so disruptive that even the performers fear for their safety.
At a recent concert in Fortress Stadium, in which the Bombay Rockers and Saif Ali Khan also performed, Atif was busy doing his thing when from nowhere, a hard seat cushion flung from the crowd hit him straight in the face. It was an awkward moment that left decent people there feeling bad. Worse was that the majority of the crowd burst into laughter. Credit to Atif, though, for he took it in his stride and continued singing.
Faisal Kapadia of Strings met the same fate in a concert held, coincidentally, in Fortress Stadium last year. In his case, the projectile was a more dangerous empty glass bottle, which narrowly missed him. Faisal immediately stopped singing and tried to tell the crowd what had happened and how dangerous it was, but was only met with boos and hooting. Sometimes, being in the limelight isn’t easy.
At times, crowds can be unruly with their comments and the type of reception they give singers. At a concert earlier this year, Karavan was opening for Atif and bore the brunt of the crowd’s cheekiness. The band was in the middle of a set, and performing quite well, when all of a sudden, some girls in the crowd started screaming “Atif, Atif”. Tanseer (Karavan’s lead vocalist) tried to shrug it off, but the girls persisted. One could easily see that Tanseer was getting angry just perplexed but downright angry and the band was forced to wrap up their performance shortly afterwards.
Jawad Ahmed also copped a lot of flak from the crowd in a concert that was held at the Defence Club in Lahore early this year. The concert also featured Jal and EP. By the time Jawad came on, it was already late and most of the crowd, tired after headbanging to EP was leaving. Seeing the crowd leave, Jawad stopped singing and started telling the crowd how popular he was in the villages of Punjab and that his latest album had sold four million copies. On hearing this, the entire crowd erupted with chants of “Jhoota, jhoota” and, to add insult to injury, still left after screaming themselves hoarse. It was a really embarrassing night for Jawad.
The crowd can get personal at times and literally drive performers up the wall, as was the case with Ali Azmat, when he first unveiled his bald look at a Junoon concert. The concert was going well, when the crowd started making fun of Ali’s lack of hair. So loud were the screams that one could hardly hear the music. Salman Ahmed gestured to the crowd to keep quiet but they wouldn’t listen. Ali kept his cool, however, and did not take it personally. The hooting stopped but not before the band had been thoroughly irritated.
Sadly, if you ask youngsters here, they will tell you that the incidents like the ones mentioned above are where the real fun lies in attending concerts.