American band Grupo Fantasma stole the show at Music Mela 2016, wowing the packed crowd with their Latin funk sound
More than 15,000 fans music lovers attended Music Mela 2016 held at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and jointly organized by the U.S. Embassy and the Foundation for Arts and Culture (FACE).
American band Grupo Fantasma stole the show on Friday night, wowing the packed crowd with their Latin funk sound. Fusing American and Latin sounds with international influences, the nine-member band performed hits from their Grammy Award-winning album, El Existencial. The performance was part of the band’s three-city tour to Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. The Grammy-award winning group played a 30-minute set featuring original songs in English and Spanish.
Commenting on their performance, Grupo Fantasma’s guitar player and founding member Beto Martinez said, “This is our first time in Pakistan. We were thrilled to perform at Music Mela and share our music with such an amazing crowd. Their energy was unbelievable! I’m proud that we helped bring Americans and Pakistanis together through this show.”
On Saturday night, bright lights shined upon American sitarist Amie Maciszewski as she performed a sitar, tabla, and Indo-jazz fusion ensemble at sunset.
Other powerful acts at Music Mela this year included Noori, Rizwan Muazzam Qawwal, Javed Bashir, Arieb Azhar, Zoe Viccaji, Qawalistan with Imran Aziz Mian, and Ali Sethi.
“This was Music Mela’s third year, and it couldn’t have been better. We’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing group of talented Pakistani and international musicians this year, with genres ranging from folk, to rock, to pop” FACE Creative Director Arieb Azhar said, commenting on this year’s artist line-up,
Famous Pashto vocalist Zarsanga, known as the Queen of Pakhtun Folklore, Taj Buledi Baloch, The Matra Percussion Band – comprising of tabla veterans Ustad Mohammed Ajmal Khan and Ustad Ejaz Hussain, Sherry Bakshi, Zeeshan on dholak and Faizan on drums, mesmerized the crowd on the first day of the Music Mela. Sufi Meeran, an upcoming folk artist from Sindh, accompanied by Mevo Saeen on the harmonium, Farida Bibi on back vocals, Mor Khan on dholak and Karam on majira also performed on the first day.
The second day featured performances by different bands like Wind and Repercussions, Richard and the Leo Twins, Blackhour, Fakhre Punjab band, Cicha, Palyga and Friends, Sounds of Kolachi and Grupo Fantasma. There were solo performances by Gulshan Jahan, Abdullah Qureshi, Arieb Azhar, Javed Bashir and Noori.
The artists led workshops on the sidelines of Music Mela throughout the event for established and up-and-coming music professionals. Grupo Fantasma, Amie Maciszewski, and other musicians joined a panel discussion on music and globalization. Other sessions included a songwriting workshop by Ali Noor and Ali Hamza and a discussion of online music promotion by American music publicist Tristra Yeager.
Music Mela also comprised of a ‘Song Writing Workshop’, an ‘Introduction to Folk Music of Pakistan’, a session on the ‘Basics of Audio Production’ and a discussion titled, ‘Final Push on Artist Royalties’.
The idea behind the festival was to connect with the world through music. The organizers believe that music industry cannot survive on television shows alone and needs an unbroken chain of live music concerts and festivals to ensure steady revenue for musicians, composers, writers, recording engineers, managers, promoters, publishers and sponsors.