The Lahore Music Meet (LLM) gave Pakistanis good music to listen to, and a lot to think about last weekend. The fifth edition of the event featured an interesting mix of artists and conversations, leaving many wondering why there wasn’t a day three.
The Alhamra Art Centre was thumping with music from the moment one stepped inside the venue. It was like a buffet, except with music. Musicians and attending the event could learn how to market their music, handle copyright, manage their talent and more. With so much on offer, we aren’t surprised that more than 8,000 people visited the venue in two days.
The event’s intersection of music, education, and business gave it more substance. That the audience was able to interact so closely with some of the biggest stars makes it not only unique but also much needed. Imagine the best of our talent and then imagine going up to them and having a chat over coffee – LLM5 gave attendees precisely that.
People started pouring into Alhamra soon after the event opened for business. Mahak Qayyum started the outdoor showcase on day one, armed and ready with her guitar. She was followed by Iqbal, who seemed like a magnet pulling the crowd in. At the same time, Haniya Aslam was telling a captivated audience a thing or two about sound mixing.
There were moments during the event that one wasn’t sure what to do, sit inside a session or head out to dance with the crowd. That’s precisely what happened when Maanu took the stage on day one. During the session on IPO: Music & Copyright in Pakistan, one couldn’t help but listen on as Mujeeb Ahmed Khan explained the importance of artist societies.
But as the discussion grew more and more intense, so did the crowd outside listening to Maanu rap one song after the other. To say that several people bolted outside right after the session would be an understatement.
Some of the bigger performances of the day came from the Mekaal Hassan Band, Auj and Shamoon Ismail. Pepsi’s star bands Auj and Aarish played at the event, with Auj taking the stage on day one and Aarish captivating the audience on Day two.
Looking at the sea of people around him, Auj front man Abdul Rehman noted, “This is the first time a stage I’ve been on has been surrounded by all four sides.” It was hard not to notice the chemistry this band has with its audience. They joked around with everyone as they set up like they were meeting old friends. At one point they were even sharing lays with fans glued to the front of the stage.
Speaking after the performance, Abdul Rehman told Dawn he doesn’t mind being mobbed by fans, “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, everything we do is for them,” he said. If a fine wine only gets better with age, the event too only got better as the day progressed.
By the time Shamoon Ismail took the stage at the end of the day, people could hardly wait. The session took place in the Pepsi Hall, and several people were scrambling to find one of the free-but-limited passes to get inside.
“I got here too late and missed the passes and I’m running around trying to find someone who can get me one pass so I can see Shamoon,” Fatima, an attendee said excitedly.
The high that day one ended with was felt as soon as the venue opened for business on day two. The crowd had eventually grown on the first day of the event, but day two began with many people already in place waiting for the music.
We loved Farheen Raza’s ability to hold attention, and hold attention she did when she took the stage.
Just as the audience was getting comfortable with the outdoor showcases, Faris Shafi and Ahmed Naqvi reminded everyone why the indoor sessions shouldn’t be missed.
In what is possibly the most important NSFW discussion to have taken place since the start of the year, the duo discussed Pakistan’s problems, Faris’ sick raps, and how we all need to take a moment to reflect.
Aarish also took their spot in Hall 2 on the second day to talk about their journey, just as Auj had done on day one.
It wasn’t till Adil Omer took the stage that one realized how truly diverse the collection of music on display really was.
Truly, the one thing the organizers got right was ensuring that the music on display had a little something for everyone. Where else can you find Faris Shafi and Naseebo Lal share a stage in quick succession?
What makes it better than this sound sensation was brought to us all by an all-woman team. Festival Directors Natasha Noorani and Zahra Paracha joined forces with Sana Nasir as Art Director and Munizeh Sanai as Creative Director, to get the ball rolling.
Good food, good music, and good friends. These three ingredients made the LLM go by faster than it should have. It’s a shame that the LLM is an annual event, we definitely need more where all that came from.