I hadn’t had the privilege of watching Khumariyaan perform live until last weekend. I was first introduced to their music when their song ‘Tamasha‘ got an LSA nomination last year. I met the band at the coveted award ceremony and immediately loved the band’s vibe. They were warm, talkative and very insightful. Farhan Bogra, the rubab virtuoso, had incredible stories to share regarding their experiences with creating music in Peshawar. Since then, I’ve been a fan. Sadly, my fandom was restricted to listening to their music online as I never got a chance to watch them perform in person.
Last weekend, the band took the stage at the iflix and PTCL partnership event. I was attending the event to support a friend who was also performing but when I saw Khumariyaan’s name on the invitation card, I knew that I absolutely could not miss their performance.
Anyone who loves music can contest to the fact that live music simply sounds better than recorded music. It’s scientifically proven as well. And if you’re a musician who doesn’t sound good when performing live means that you’re editing your vocals and sound way too much once it has been recorded. After watching Khumariyaan perform on stage, one can safely say that the boys sound even better in person than they do in their videos.
But Khumariyaan’s music isn’t just about the audio. Their performance is an experience of its own. In Pakistan, very few musical acts make their shows visually engaging as well. For example, singers abroad aren’t just vocalists; they’re performers. They put on a show with their elaborate costumes, lights and theatrics. You don’t just go to listen to Beyonce, you go to her concerts to watch her perform.
Khumariyaan are one of the few musical acts who’ve put in some thought into what they’re trying to communicate on stage. The band actively tries to bring their hometown Peshawar into the narrative and they do this by using traditional instruments and sharing anecdotes of their city with their audience. At the iflix-PTCL event, the band did what they always do: they brought in a lot of energy, taught traditional pakhtun dance moves to everyone in the audience, kept the audience engaged by asking the audience to clap at specific points in the song to help create a unifying sound and played their instruments really well.
The best part of their performance, however, is that all four of them – Sparlay Rawail, Farhan Bogra, Aamer Shafiq and Shiraz Khan – look like they’re having so much fun themselves. That makes the entire experience even more entertaining.
Here’s a very brief peek into what we’re talking about: