LMM18: An event worth even more than the hype


LAHORE: Turnout swelled compared to the first day here on Sunday, as Lahoris turned out in droves to attend the final day of the fourth edition of the annual Lahore Music Meet held at the Al Hamra Arts Council.

Lines of people outside the gates entered the premises where multiple events and sub-events were taking place simultaneously in different areas of Al Hamra.

More star power attended the event as well, and much to the delight of the audiences, mingled with, talked to and socialised with the attendees. The entire premise of the event has been to bring artist and cultural consumer closer and to encourage dialogue between the two, and folk singer Attaullah Esakhelvi, Coke Studio star Ali Sethi, Ali Aftab Saeed, Hassan Cheema, Ayesha Omar and others could all be seen walking around the premises, enjoying the festivities, and interacting with their fans.

The stage set in the central courtyard of Al Hamra was packed back to back with performances from different bands and artists. Zohaib Bilal, Bushra Marvi, Sameen Qasim, Bayyan, Shorbanoor and Pepsi Battle of the Bands winner, Kashmir.

A number of talks in two of the halls were also very well attended, as the event seems to have been trying to segway on to more general themes than music, with talks scheduled on women empowerment as well as a sideshow art gallery. The festival also hosted to the screenings of “Songs of Lahore,” which are a series of virtual reality short films by two-time Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy.

Well advertised, well sponsored and well organised, the LMM has by now proven itself to be a solid event worth it being hosting annually. And as the headliners for the event closed the night on a soaring high, the general feeling among attendees was that it has now become one of the few public cultural events that are a must attend for any and everyone every year.

In the two days that it was around this year, there was more activity than could be covered or attended by any of the visitors, yet there were some clear highlights that helped make the event what it turned out to be:

Attaullah Esakhelvi:

Photo: Mohammad Sohaib

The legendary folk singer was one of the first big names to come and perform at the initial editions of the LMM. No doubt, his promotion and performance at the event helped make it what it has become now. This year, the maverick tribal that loved to sing came not to perform, but to talk to his fans.

In a talk titled “Dastangoii with Cassette King”, Eesakhelvi explained his difficult entry into music given his upbringing in as a tribal Pasthun of the Niazi clan in Eesakhel. Much to the delight of the audience, he regaled them with different anecdotes, receiving thundering applause and a standing ovation at the end of his story.

His later mingling with his fans and the numerous discussion he had on his rise through the cassette revolution were definitely things people will remember for years to come.

Hear me roar:

Photo: Mohammad Sohaib

One of the events that kept audiences hooked, it was a refreshing change of pace with the conversation shifting some from music and moving towards the topic of women empowerment.

A packed audience was riled up by RJ and actor Khalid Malik, who introduced his all female panel including Mandana Zaidi, Sophiya Anjum, and Selina Rashid. The one singer actually on the panel, Aima Baig, could not make it to the event thanks to the oil tanker incident on the canal.

The talk remained one of the most important and better discussions at the LMM, and a heavy use of audience interaction and a Q&A session was also much appreciated.

Art gallery and Mosiqi Mulaqat:

Photo: Mohammad Sohaib

Set up by the Citizens Archives of Pakistan, a small photo exhibition was put up in the Al Hamra art gallery. It consisted of some historic pictures of different artists, classical and otherwise, captured performing, practicing or teaching.

At the center of the gallery was another event, a ‘Mosiqi Mulaqat,’ where senior citizens and younger generations sat across from each other and shared their playlists with the other. The songs were followed by discussions between old and young, before seats were shifted so that everyone would have a chance to take part with everyonme.

A first-time in Pakistan innovations, the activity was perhaps one of the most salient features of the LMM and would be a very good addition to the events to follow.

Bayyan, Maujj, Kashmir and the headliners:

Photo: Mohammad Sohaib

To put it frankly, Day one of the LMM was a little slow. There was not really enough star power and things hadn’t kicked off as they could have on Saturday. And while the event was dwindling into being forgettable, band Maujj lit up the crowd with their electric performance and ensured that there was a big turnout on Sunday.

The Sunday visitors would not be disappointed either, and while the talks were well and good, there were some epic performances by Bayyan, which carried a huge audience along with them and sang covoffs for some all-time favourites. And of course, Pepsi Battle of the Bands winner Kashmir was one performance people flocked to see.

The event went out on a high as well, with headliner Fareed Ayaz along with Abbu Muhammad Qawal and brothers sending the crowds away into a whirlwind of musical frenzy to cap of the night.