It is a privilege to get to travel with artists, and there's a transcendence of mental borders when traveling with musicians. The rave on the 14th of February at the Peninsula Hotel, Chittagong did not disappoint.
Being used to concerts in Dhaka that were predominantly all about moody lights, brooding guitarists and stamped vocals, walking into this concert shook all preconceived notions as the audience was greeted with a blinding blaze of hypnotic visuals provided by Fahad Zaman that shifted and morphed with every halt, screech and glitch of the electro-dance music pouring out from behind the booth where the musicians/DJs stood over computers and wires. The result was an electronic sound that was somehow organic and the intertwining of the dance beat and the visuals added to that effect. In other words, even the sturdiest believers of traditional music couldn't help but get swept away in the rhythm, even it's just one foot tapping away when no one's looking.
The line-up was a mix of new faces and seasoned musicians, but all names under the Dhaka Electronica Scene (DES) banner. The overall atmosphere, combining the sound, the visuals, and the little glow rings (courtesy of performer and organiser Osman Gani) weaving through the dark on everyone's fingers, was of a rave, which is a rare sight in Bangladesh.
Zaeed Zubair was the opening act of the night. In his words, his work mostly consists of Progressive House, Electro House and Progressive Trance. But he's one for mixing it up to get the right product for the crowd to get on its feet. To give an honest indication of Zaeed's live music, it was dance music bordering on the lines of an assault, just enough to jolt you up on the floor.
Osman Gani followed Zaeed; the set was a blend of Electro House and Trance. His electroclash sounds transitioned smoothly from Zaeed's set, shifting the dance beat but not interrupting the flow of the music.
Don Donadoni was up next, a veteran of House from Dhaka Electronica Scene, who managed to lace in an organic sound into his House/Funky House set, subtly altering the beat to his own and taking over from Osman, before introducing the depth of his musical talent in full force midway through his set. What made Don's set stand out is his ability in creating a sound that was unique from all the other performers; you won't find stuff like his on YouTube.
Omer Nashaad, one of the founders of Dhaka Electronica Scene and maybe performing his last major show before leaving for the US, came up next. His set was a compilation of his signature Electro style, known to all those who have been to other DES performances. Getting a chance to be up on stage and watch him work his magic over the knobs and keys, you knew that he gave Bangladesh a platform for Electronic music, and it was here to stay.
The night ended with the musical stylings of Farzan Hassan playing Trance. Those of you who have attended Soundcity 2013 will know what this man is capable of when he's hunched behind an electro control booth. Though he played a shorter set this time, his sounds were deep rooted with beats that pulsed through your head all the way to the next day. All in all, his set was the main course and a punch to the skull all at once, and managed to leave you satisfied after it all. His concluding tracks were a perfect complement to the evening because it brought you slowly back to earth from the experience of the entire concert.
Electronica is not a recent phenomenon but its emergence is, and it's good to see performers like Osman Gani taking massive chances to introduce the electro dance phenomenon to audiences all over the country.