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Jal – Damp squib in concert

Planning to invite Jal to rock your college fest? Think again!

A band has a couple of hit songs. It decided to quickly ‘cash in’ by giving a bunch of concerts. This never happened in India, until now, with Pakistani band ‘Jal’ leading the way. The band was on a blistering schedule of concerts all over India. 20 performances in 25 days flat in the month of February. But as they airdashed from Delhi (3 Feb) to Bangalore (4 Feb) to Rourkela (5 Feb), the same feedback echoed from across venues. Jal was a disaster.

Delayed, lacking energy and spunk, poor choice of songs, poor singing contributed in making the Jal show worth not even the cheap entry fees that were being charged.
– report from IIM Bangalore festival, Unmaad (4 Feb)

An identical scenario was replayed at NIT Rourkela the next day. The band arrived 4 hours behind schedule to start the concert scheduled for 9 pm at 1 am! The 3000 strong crowd was somehow held together with the NIT band ‘Euphony’ putting up an unscheduled performance. The crowd grew restless and angry, hungry and cold.

And yet, when Jal finally arrived, the crowd stood up and roared. All was forgiven, as the junta swayed to Woh lamhe. And then, the trouble began. The band sang some of the other, relatively unknown songs from their album. Slow ballads, all sounding the same. The crowd was growing restless

At this point a fuse blew out and so did the audience’s patience. Many got up and left. A much anticipated show turned out to be a huge letdown. And I think Jal is squarely to blame. First of all, professionalism demands that the band arrive on time. That you were in Bangalore the night before is not an acceptable excuse.

Secondly, having arrived at the concert – at least then, the band should have given the audience paisa vasool (you are after all charging a couple of lakhs!). Showcase your own songs, but be open to singing other crowd pleasing songs to keep the audience on its feet.

Strings does that, so does Euphoria. Contrast that attitude with Jal, who chose to sing a sonorous new composition they’d penned in memory of ‘earthquake’ victims.

You get away with it once… But if you’re in this business the fun lies in being called back again and again. This is especially true of the college circuit.There are 7 IITs, 6 IIMs, 18 NITs and a handful of other colleges like BITS, which conduct festivals with big enough crowds and budgets to hold pro-nites.

This year Jal and Sivamani/ Indian Ocean have been permanent fixtures at a large number of these fests. Past favourites include Euphoria and the old warhorse Parikrama – they get called back year after year. That is definitely not going to be the case with Jal!

The Atif Aslam angle:
Part of Jal‘s desperation lies in their need to be seen as the ‘real’ Jal, after their lead singer Atif Aslam split from the band. Both Atif and Jal have been laying claim to the popular ‘Woh Lamhe’ and ‘Aadat’ songs. Since the issue remains unresolved, the producers of Kalyug cleverly included both Aatif and Jal‘s versions of Aadat in their film.

Bottomline: If you were planning to invite Jal to play at your college fest – think again. And Jal better reconsider its attitude – talent alone is not enough. No matter how much fans may love your songs!

– Rashmi Bansal

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