On 29th July 2018, Pepsi Battle of the Band aired its season 3’s episode 3 and I couldn’t have been any more excited as I waited with bated breath.
For quite some time, it had been rumoured that Strings was set to join the judging panel at some point and I had hoped that now since the auditions were over, they would make their appearance. Pepsi certainly did not disappoint as, lo and behold, the iconic duo took the stage by storm to perform two of their best songs, Najanay Kyun and Mera Bichra Yaar and made me wonder if the competing bands were backstage taking notes. Faysal and Bilal took their seats on the panel and yet another surprise followed as Ayesha Omar proudly announced that Ahmed Ali Butt would also be joining the show as her co-host. Fawad appeared the most thrilled as his band mate joined him on the same show in which they had been contestants in their band, Entity Paradigm in season 1 and then performed on stage as well in the grand finale of season 2. Given his history with the show and his well known witty sense of humour, I too was thrilled to say the least! He then advised the bands that this is a do-or-die situation hence they must always come prepared with their A-game.
Prior to their performances that day, the bands had been given makeovers to match their respective images more and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good makeover? Footage was played showcasing the process with their before and after looks as well as giving an inside look into their playful sides as they interacted with one another. It was most definitely one of the best and most entertaining parts of this episode for me and the pictures here say it all.
The level of effort put forth by the bands this episode shone through astoundingly well as it brought forth three standing ovations from the judges!
The first came from a truly awe-inducing rendition of Sajna (originally by Janoon) by Tamaasha with an exhilerating stage presence that included jumping around the stage and vocals that truly did Ali Azmat’s justice. The judges’ reaction during their performance made their thoughts on it more than obvious. As the performance ended, the judges gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation. Fawad deemed them one of his absolute favourites on this show and said he had never before seen a vocalist like theirs. Faysal and Bilal were left highly impressed by their vocal control and stage presence. Meesha took the words right out of my mouth as she stated that they were already more than ready to take the stage and perform at concerts!
The second standing ovation of the episode was brought forth by Xarb’s rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Dam Mast Kalandar. It was undoubtedly enjoyed by all four of the judges and Xarb deemed by Meesha as one of her favourite bands in the entire competition. All four agreed that it was a rendition that truly did the original justice by keeping it simple with none of the elements trying to overpower one another.
Next up came Kaghaz performing the iconic 80s hit Disco Deewane by Nazia Hassan. Meesha congratulated them on successfully switching lanes unlike other bands as they had gone for a darker, more aggressive vibe in the last episode and this was certainly a stark contrast to that. Faysal loved their performance as well and said that it had even made him want to join in and dance along to it! Bilal also deemed it a succesful cover of a difficult song but commented that their vocal range could’ve matched it a little better. Fawad gave the band a standing ovation with Meesha and Faysal joining in. Seeing as this song had been one of my childhood favourites, I agreed fully with Bilal and felt it was a great cover but their vocals could have gone a little higher to match.
Not all performances of course could be so outstanding but they were good nonetheless.
Déjà Vu came on stage to perform their take on the iconic song Purani Jeans by Ali Haider which is one of my personal favourites as well. The judges enjoyed it but wanted more stage presence from them about which I personally feel that all bands should just ditch the sunglasses on stage to better connect with the listener. The performance also included a trumpet solo which much to the surprise of all, including myself, hadn’t actually involved a trumpet at all as Amir, or shall I say ‘The Human Trumpet’, used his mouth alone to imitate the sound! After a lighthearted reminder from Fawad concerning the last episode, they confirmed that they would change their name to Déjà Blues.
21 The Band took to the stage later with their cover of Najam Sheraz’s In Se Nain. They received mixed feedback from each judge. Bilal however was upset at them making a small change to the original song’s lyrics and gave serious criticism on that. Meesha confessed that she had expected a more of a punk rock vibe from them as they had stated their band to have in the auditions and had hence felt a little disappointed by this performance.
Among the not so great performances of episode 3 were Sarmasta, Khamaaj, and Bayaan (much to my disappointment).
Sarmasta performed Sajjad Ali’s cheeky and fun Kuch Larkiyaan but felt a bit too lacklustere. They received criticism on their arrangement and vocals; Faysal still somewhat enjoyed it however Bilal felt that it had been flat and lacking.
Then there was Khamaaj with a rendition of Alamgir’s Dekha Na Tha which the judges had felt had poor song and bar progression, vocal choice, and even poor song choice. They felt that out of the two vocalists, only Humail should have sung for this particular song as his voice admittedly went better with the song.
Lastly came what used to be my favourite band in this competition, Bayaan, with a ill-matched rendition of Hadiqa Kiani’s famous Intehai Shauk. I totally agreed with Faysal when he commented that their vocalist’s vocal range in this song had been too low for what was required for this song. Fawad too felt that his range had been too low and had instead been overpowered by their instrumental arrangment. The judges agreed that it had been a poor song choice for the band’s sound and vocal range.
Fare Thee Well
The episode turned serious as the inevitable eliminations came around and three bands went into the Danger Zone: Sarmasta, Khamaaj, and Bayaan. Khamaaj was eliminated on the spot leaving the other two bands with one more chance to prove themselves. Bayaan chose to perform an original, Hum Nadaan and faired much better whereas Sarmasta chose to perform Dosti by Janoon. The judges chose Bayaan to continue forward and, sadly, Sarmasta was elimanted. Six bands remain to compete and I look forward to what PBOTB has in store next!