Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Josh Naal Paa Bhangra

So we opened for JoSH this past weekend....

The show was at Royal Rodale, which is thankfully pretty close to where I live, so I was relieved that it wasn't a major trek. The boys and I were pretty pumped about the show, Yasir and Rahail got to my place early and even managed to squeeze in a game of cricket that got far too sweaty. Well basically it was Yasir and me playing while Rahail and Aamir sat on the side and made hurtful comments.

The problem with having a gig closeby is that you tend to relax about the things you carry, when we finally got to the venue, we realized we were missing a bunch of things.  Luckily Ali Alam was able to get them. He had yet to arrive because he travels separately... on a white horse... flanked by nubile women...with palm leaves...feeding him Skittles.

The stage setup looked fantastic, it was about 10 feet high surrounded by this massive iron rig. Ishtiaq Bhai of Shadab Sound was doing our sound today, it was the first time I had worked with him, we had been going with Audiolink for the longest time, so I was looking forward to the change. The soundcheck was pretty painless and it sounded really good, so we were really enthused about performing.

However, there was a really strange vibe going around. We were getting stared at like we were aliens. I think we were generally a little put off because the Royal Rodale management and their security people were being dickish. We kept walking up and down, transporting our things and we walked through the check points enough times for them to know who we were. And we got stopped at every point along the way with people asking us if we had a ticket or a pass. Now we're not the kind of band that makes a big deal out of things like this, its fine if people don't know who we are. But unless you have employed a bunch of goldfish as your security, you'd think that they would remember us from the 5 times we passed by them. I know we're not the most famous band in Pakistan but it seems to me, that if you paid us money to come perform at your concert, you'd know who the fuck we were.

As performers, we had the privelege of getting 10 free tickets for the entire band to give out, while it wasn't a lot, we didn't ask for anymore. I took our guest list down to the ticketing counter and tried to explain to the ticketing guys that they needed to let those people in. I was confronted by the 'head organizer' who fixed me with a "who the fuck are you" glare, clearly meant to intimidate. I calmly tried to explain that I was Omar from ADP and I had a guest list that needed to be taken care of. He in turn glared back and claimed that the guest list hadn't been discussed with him. I said that my manager had spoken to the organizers and they said it was fine. A tense standoff happened before he finally said fine. By this time I was seething.

The guys started getting irritated as this needless harassment. Things got ugly when we walked out of the gate holding water bottles that the organizers had provided us. The guards saw us walking out with those bottles. When we tried to re-enter, they informed us we couldn't bring the bottles back in. No amount of reasoning could convince them that these were in fact water bottles that came from Royal Rodale. Again, I chose to tell the guys to chill out, and ignore it, but we were all just livid.

The opening act 90 Degrees were performing, we got a couple of their songs. We knew that the crowd hadn't really arrived yet, so we decided to go back to my place where we could relax for awhile and I could change into my sexy performance clothes.

The moment we got to my place, the organizers started calling us back, telling us the concert had a midnight deadline and we needed to get on stage now. I was afraid that this was going to happen, which is why I was glad that we weren't there, being subjected to needless pressure. We told them to wait, we'd be there in ten minutes. I was trying really hard to not let the bad vibes get to the guys, I think it helped that we were all together in once car, so we kept our spirits up.

Once we got in, there was a pretty sizeable crowd and there was an RJ on stage trying to buy time because Aunty Disco Project were late. I didn't see what the massive fuss was, we had barely been gone for 15 minutes and we were going to start the show at 9:40, which was a pretty decent time to start.

We took the stage and I was amused by a row of extremely buff bouncers at the foot of the stage dressed in fatigues ( no jokes!) and combat boots. It looked like the A-Team was the night's security. They were doing their best to intimidate the front row which mostly consisted of screaming teenage girls. I asked the crowd to come closer and not be afraid of the bouncer guys and cracked a few jokes at their expense. Judging by the look that one of the dudes gave me, I was pretty sure that he was going to rape me after the show.

We started with Sultanat, and the crowd surged forward and started cheering and headbanging. It was magnificent! everyone knew the words and were singing along and it warmed my heart to see boys and girls dancing and just genuinely enjoying themselves. We played all original material for the first time, including our new versions of "Likhta Nahin Mein" and "Raat Jaagi". "Nazar" was a crowd favourite and we also played "Jaaney Vaaley', one of the newer tracks. We were all set to perform 4 more songs when we were told by the organizers to cut our set short. I was in no mood to fight especially since we were having such a good time on stage, so we just went straight into "Hum Na Rahey' and "Mujhey Sahara Do" as a finale.

We got off the stage to thunderous applause and people asking for more, I knew the set had been too short but at least we put on a good show, and thats all you can really ask for.

We briefly met JoSH backstage while we were left the stage. They seemed nice and really polite. Before he got on, Q turned to Yasir and asked "Crowd mein bachiyaan bhee hain, yaa sirf launday?" (Are there any chicks in the crowd or are there just desperate dudes?). I was most amused.

As we went downstairs to put our equipment away, we had mixed emotions about the show. Our performance itself was great but just the general atmosphere had been kinda hostile. Rahail and Giles left immediately, Ali, Yasir and I decided to stick around for JoSH.

While we were coming back up, security decided to stop us again and this time I lost my temper and accused the guards of simply trying to humiliate us. People were watching so I went upstairs without causing too much of a scene, but still seething....I went back down when I was leaving and decided to give them a peace of my mind. I started off trying to politely reason with the Royal Rodale management, but they seemed to be on some massive power trip and started yelling back at me. That was when I lost it a second time and I accused them of getting their kicks stopping and harassing people for no reason. I've tried to have a really clean record when dealing with people and the last thing I want to be accused of is diva-esque behaviour. But this was beyond what I could handle and I caused a scene. My friends stepped in to defuse the situation and then I finally left after an admittedly self righteous rant about Pakistan and our society and how we lack common decency (heck I don't even know what I was on about, I'd like to think I was quite eloquent)

I have to say I was a little dissappointed by the fact that JoSH were relying on pre-recorded backing tracks while singing live for the concert. I suppose it makes logistical sense since they're coming from Canada and probably dont have time to rehearse with a live band. But it just tones down the live energy of a show. Anyway, the songs were good, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves which is always good to see. JoSH finished at around 11:20, well before midnight, so telling us to cut our setlist short for them was basically a load of shit.

It was a day that should have been great for us, but all the hostility and gotten to us and we were exhausted by the constant defensive mentality we had to keep up. But on the plus side, the concert was well organized, without technical issues and the organizers got it right for the most part. Somethings could have been handled better, but at least our crowd enjoyed the show and I'd like to think we gave them their moneys worth.

Aaah well, till the next time then...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We're performing with JoSH

Yuppp....we're performing live along with the Canadian bhangra-pop duo Josh this Saturday the 20th at Royal Rodale. It's our first gig of the year, we're really pumped and excited about it, and from what we can tell, the Karachi public is too. There's been a real lack of live concerts in the country so anything that happens is a highly anticipated event. We haven't played live since November of last year, at the Shanaakht Festival, so we're just itching to get back on stage.

It does seem like a slightly odd pairing though, a bhangra band with a rock band? I'm hoping the crowd won't destroy us in a fit of violent bhangra. I'm really looking forward to meeting Qurram and Roop from Josh. I'm a big fan, so I'll be working on my opening lines. (I feel there's a Roop/Poop joke in there somewhere.)

Be there, it's going to be epic.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Attack of the Aunties

I recently became victim of something I only thought happened to girls in Pakistan. No I wasn't leered at by strangers while out shopping and no one tried to grab my bum in Sunday Bazaar, (well not recently anyway).

I was GOSSIPPED about by Aunties.

Now while my female friends have alway complained and warned me about this very desi phenomenon, you never realize how hilarious and gross it is until it happens to you.

So my parents have been quietly worrying about the fact that I need to get laid soon find a wife. Let me make it clear, they're not the pressuring sort, they simply wanted to plant the idea in my mind that I should stop dating whores and try to settle down. Fair enough. Anyway, I didn't really give it too much thought, but things were happening behind the scenes. Some aunty introduced my mum to some other aunty at some social event in the hopes that they would like each other and do the obvious thing and bind their offspring in holy matrimony. So the aunty met my mom, and checked out my stats on paper, and wanted to "take things further". My mum didn't really pursue the matter, given that I didn't know about it, and probably would have thrown a shit fit.

Fast forward a couple of months, the same aunty runs into the aunty who introduced them and is hysterical. Apparently she had run a background check on me and was horrified at my "tight pants", "long hair", "sleeveless shirt", "rock singing" and "dancing with girls".
Clearly she was looking for a boy with "loose pants", "short hair", "full sleeve shirt", "ghazal singing" and "dances with boys".

I guess she had heard about my performance in "Mamma Mia" or maybe she'd seen me on TV or heck maybe she read this blog. Either way she then launched into a rant about how glad she was that she found out that I was the destroyer of all civilization and how lucky she was that her daughter didn't meet me.

Now when I heard this story, I thought it was hilarious. Obviously. But the comment I heard next really got me. The aunty said:

"How can his parents be so nice and he turns out like this?"

Now it's one thing to gossip about me, or criticize me. I accept that I'm going to be under public scrutiny having chosen to be a entertainer. Most of the time one has a pretty thick skin about these things. But this was the first time anyone had brought my parents into it. It was a horrible feeling, It had never once occurred to me that my parents might have to suffer from embarassment because of me.

My parent have been pillars of strength for me and I have never once done anything without their whole hearted support. Hearing this story angered me and I ranted back at my mom telling her that we shouldn't even be socializing with idiot people like that. What she told me next was something I had never even thought about. She told me that I have to be prepared to hear comments like that about my family, because once you are an entertainer, people feel like they can talk about you without fear of judgment or consequence. We cease to be people. She told me that any girl I marry eventually will have to be someone who can cope with this. It's a sobering thought.

Up until now, I always thought my band and I were underground performers, known to some people in the entertainment industry and a few media personality, but not really known to ordinary people. But the fact is that more people know about us than I thought, whether it's through the internet or simply just talk. I'm not famous, but I am becoming.."known"

For people in my families social circles, it's almost unheard of that someone they know should be involved in the entertainment industry. Especially someone like me, who went to Karachi Grammar School and went to college in the US. They would imagine I would be doing something more respectable than being an entertainer.

Sadly this is a cultural phenomenon. This ambivalence towards the entertainment industry is crippling. On one hand you can acheive fame and fortune. They'll even call you a legend like "Madam" Noor Jehan. But behind your back, they'll refer to you as a marasi, a street performer, basically a whore.

I contemplated toning down my online presence after this. I even toyed with the idea of shutting down the blog because lets face it, the first thing that comes up when you google me is this blog and a post entitled "Kanye West: Chootia". I realize writing up here without anonymity is not without consequence.

Then again...fuck it. This is fun.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rahail and I discuss "Marley & Me"

An MSN Chat conversation Rahail and I had the other day about the popular film "Marley and Me".
Rahail is "Stonehenge!" 

WARNING: Heavy profanity to follow.

Stonehenge! says:
cats are fucking AWESOME
i saw marley and me
i got bored
Omar says:
Stonehenge! says:
and annoyed by all the constant.. attention seeking
of the dog
Omar says:
i cried my ovaries out
Stonehenge! says:
you would , wouldnt you
Omar says:
that dog was a hero
Stonehenge! says:
fuck you and fuck dogs
it didnt do shit
it may have seen jennifer aniston naked
for which i salute him
Omar says:
fuck you man
he stayed awake because the baby was sick
he woke the dude up when there was a burglary
he took care of jennifer aniston when she lost the baby
so fuck you rahail
Stonehenge! says:
he also kept them awake ALL THE TIME
so no different
Omar says:
your cats fucking locked you out of your own house
Stonehenge! says:
he attacked mailmen
shat on the beach
drove the housesitter nuts
Omar says:
hardly a position of moral superiority
Stonehenge! says:
and died
at an inappropriate time
the dog would lock HIMSELF out on the roof
Omar says:
he died at the perfect time you heartless bastard
Stonehenge! says:
Omar says:
Stonehenge! says:
you mean the end of the movie?
oh yeah
Omar says:
after he had served his duty
Stonehenge! says:
the dog was played by 22 dogs
so theyre disposable?
' we have enough kids now , go die dog'
fuck dogs and fuck you
Omar says:
no man. I disagree strongly
i say fuck you
Stonehenge! says:
it didnt even die awesomely
it just dropped dead
the bitch had to have drugs put in
to die
Omar says:
how would you prefer it
Stonehenge! says:
walked on a landmine
Omar says:
if he fucking armed himself and died in a blaze of glory
Stonehenge! says:
that would be awesome!
Omar says:
shooting at the fuckin Cambodian army
Stonehenge! says:
the nazis
at the end of the film
Omar says:
Stonehenge! says:
they wind up in germany , 1944
Omar says:
marley goes on a murderous rampage
and rapes hitler
Stonehenge! says:
that wouldve been the best fucking film ever!
fucks hitlers dog
then fucks hitler
Omar says:
and then dies
having fucked himself to death
upon which he is given a heroes burial
Stonehenge! says:
winston churchill himself presides
who was a cat person btw

Monday, February 01, 2010

Reasons why Shahid Afridi bit the ball

Shahid Afridi decided to bite the ball during Pakistan's last one-day match against Australia. He has been accused of ball-tampering.

I for one, do not believe the allegations. Here I provide several reasons, which provide an alternative explanation for his actions.

1. Afridi was hungry.

Fed up with his limited eating options in non-halal Australia, Afridi was driven mad with hunger. He started hallucinating on the cricket field and when he was handed the cricket ball, he thought it was an apple laced with heroin and bit into it. Now most of us would probably have shattered our front teeth and realized that we weren't eating a apple laced with heroin. But since Boom Boom Afridi is awesome he probably bit a massive chunk out of it, chewed it, digested it and shit out an AK-47 and a pellet of naswar.

2. Afridi was showing aggression.

What could be more terrifying than seeing a member of the opposition act like he is going to savagely devour your testicles? Clearly a calculated move on Afridi's part. The Aussies must have collectively shit their pants when they saw Boom Boom gnawing away at that cricket ball like a deranged beaver. We might have even won the match if Afridi had started chewing on a bat handle...

3. Afridi was horny.

In an effort to show  that he was ready for mating, Afridi had to send out some signals. Here were his options:

  1. Masturbate furiously in the middle of the pitch

  2. Prove his virility by forcibly boning Peter Siddle. (mostly so he could make a rhyme about how he was able to “diddle Siddle”)

  3. Thump his chest and take a shit near the boundary.

  4. Bite a cricket ball to show his hunger for producing offspring.

Luckily for all of us, (and for Peter Siddle) he chose option 4.

4. Afridi is awesome.

Biting a cricket ball is merely the latest in a long list of awesome things Afridi has accomplished. A copy of his itinerary was found in the Pakistan teams dressing room yesterday. Here it is.

7:00 AM: Wake up, kick bitches out of room.
8:00 AM: Give team pep-talk. Threaten sodomy.
8:30 AM: Record new version of Nazia Hassan hit “Boom Boom”. Add “...will fuck you” to lyrics.
9:00 AM: Lead small Pathan village to revolution
10:00 AM: Audition for next Die Hard movie.
11:00 AM: Acknowledge awesomeness and laugh.
12:00 AM: Lunch: Find weakest member of Aussie Team and eat him.
1:00 PM: Start match. Go to Australian dressing room, rub testicles on all their gear.
2:00 PM: Score match winning 2 off one ball.
3:00 PM: Bite cricket ball
7:00PM: Find bitches.

5. Afridi is batshit fucking insane

How has this never occurred to anybody?
That's how Afridi rolls. He's unpredictable. He's loco. Insane in the membrane. Does he even know he's playing cricket? For all we know Boom Boom has no idea what the fuck he's doing in the middle of a stadium with 7,000 screaming fans. Heck he probably has no idea who the fuck Boom Boom is. Can you imagine the confusion? The poor terrified Afridi just wanted all those white people to stop yelling and that other white dude to stop hitting that fucking ball towards him all day. To make it stop, he picked up the ball and bit the fuck out of it. He was merely registering a legitimate, but ultimately, batshit-fucking-insane protest.