Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pepsi Battle of the Bands - Season 3 Episode 3 Review

By Hamza Shafique (Instagram / Facebook)

With a new flashy big stage, inclusion of more famous judges and addition of a fun host, Pepsi battle of the bands episode 3 takes the standard of reality talent shows to the next level. From episode 3 onward we will have knockout rounds, so every band has to do their best otherwise they will not go forward. Starting the episode with a performance by Strings was refreshing and Ahmed Ali Butt added a little humor/fun to the very rehearsed hosting style of Ayesha Umar.

Theme of this episode was retro where all the bands had to cover the classics from Pakistan music scene. Listening to modern renditions of your old favorites was pleasing and most of the bands did justice to the classics. In the audition round Déjà vu covered “Bolo Bolo” by Sajjad Ali and I was thinking to myself why no one covers other interesting compositions from Sajjad Ali like “Kuch Ladkyan”. To my amazement episode 3 opened with Sarmasta covering “Kuch Ladkyan”. This show is certainly hitting all the right music chords, at least with me.
Again, a very subtle episode free from all the unnecessary emotions and reality show drama, Judges comments were spot on and they appear experts in the domain, Elimination was quick and very justified.
My Top 3 from the episode are:

1-Dam Mast Qalandar cover by Xarb:

At number one spot I have Xarb. It’s very hard to cover a massive popular, energetic, classic qawwali and convert it into a modern slow instrumental soothing sound and generate a sense of calmness. I played it in my car yesterday and to my surprise my 3-year-old son along with my 60-year-old Mother both were grooving to the sound. Beauty of this Xarb’s cover is that it magically takes you to this peaceful zone, which is very hard to achieve with this qawwali. Standing ovation by the judges was well deserved.

2-Sajna cover by Tamasha:

Lead vocalist in Tamasha has this very distinctive animated singing style which may not be pleasing to most eastern ears like mine, therefore when Judges gave standing ovation to their audition I was like whats happening. But they proved themselves here as a band with the cover of Sajna by Junoon and I am a fan. The vocals were amazing, the range, control everything was brilliant, I guess you just need to have the right rendition for such vocals. The way whole band played the overall composition clubbed with the right animated vocals, it was a complete blast from beginning till end. Another very well deserved standing ovation by the judges.

3-Disco Deewane cover by Kaghaz:

It took me a while to select this one, as rest of the bands all had one or two elements that stood out but overall the covers were not complete like the ones we got from Xarb and Tamasha. But still I believe Kaghaz’s cover of all-time hit “Disco Deewane” by legendary Nazia Hasan was refreshing. I wish they had more Jazz to composition because they started with a very cabaret sort of feel but it got lost with the progression also vocals sounded weak this time but as an overall composition compared to other it was still very pleasing and complete.


There was one sudden elimination where Khamaj rightfully eliminated, as judges highlighted, problem was the chemistry between the two lead singers and their off chemistry was evident from audition as well. And then there was a final showdown between the remaining bottom two bands Bayaan and Sarmasta. One could see the energy, determination and will for survival in the final showdown. Bayaan have a very distinctive tone to their music which I believe helped them survive the elimination as Sarmasta sounded just like any other band, they were good but didn’t standout.

Now remaining 6 bands, with my order of preference are:

4-21 The Band
5-Déjà vu

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