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Strings - The Pakistani Pop Band Attract Huge Crowds

Veda Shastri

Strings, the famous Pakistani pop band, recently performed a concert in Boston at the Berklee Performance Theater. The concert hall was packed nearly to its capacity of 1200 people. The concert opened with the band Eighty-East, from New Jersey, which got the crowd going with some covers of popular songs and some of their own. The atmosphere really kicked into high gear, however, when Strings came on stage. The audience was so inspired that throngs of people kept making their way to the front of the auditorium to be closer to the performers on stage and dance and croon along to the point where ushers had to continually restrain them.

 The band is great in concert; its primary lead vocalist, Faisal Kapadia, has natural performative charisma, and connected with the audience easily. Both Faisal and Bilal worked their way into the seated crowds on different occasions, engaging with the audience either through questions about their songs, asking them to sing parts of their songs, and calling out to enthusiastic members in the front of the auditorium.

 They also understood their audience well—a mostly Pakistani and Indian diaspora of varied age range, and worked well with them. After beginning their concert with several of their most popular songs including "Na Jaaney Kyun," "Chaaye Chaaye," "Mera Bichra Yaar," they sang and paid tribute to several Pakistani pop songs, which energized the Pakistani American crowds who recognized the classic songs of yesteryear. After this, Faisal Kapadia took pause and asked for the house lights to be turned on. He asked how many of the audience members were Pakistani, and after the crowds cheered in acknowledgment, he asked how many "Indian friends" were also present in the audience. As the Indian American masses cheered, he remarked that they would now sing something "especially for their Indian friends." This turned out to be an extensive Bollywood medley, featuring favorites from the 70s like "Om Shanti Om," to the more contemporary such as "Koi Kahe" from "Dil Chahta Hai."

 Towards the end of the concert they reverted back to their own original music, playing their most famous song, "Dhuur," as well as other popular songs including "Anjaney" and "Dhaani."

 Strings was initially formed in 1989 and comprised four lead band members. They produced a few successful albums, which include the song "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahaar," but disbanded in 1992. In 2000, two lead members, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood reinstated the band. Since then, Strings has become enormously successful in both the Pakistani and Indian music industry. Strings' songs have also been featured in Bollywood films (Zinda and Shootout at Lokhandwala) and their song "Na Jaane Kyun" was used in the Urdu dubbed version of the Hollywood film Spiderman. The band has carved a distinct identity for itself as a Pakistani pop band that imcorporates rock music as well as Hindustani classical music. They are a band that is immensely popular with a broad age range, including youth across South Asia and parts of the Middle East, yet their lyrics are completely Hindi and Urdu and carry no English words.

As a fan of Strings, I was very excited at the prospect of seeing them perform; and cliched though it may sound, I was truly blown away by the distinct style of music and energy that they brought forth. They performed all my personal favorites ("Dhuur, Kahani Mohabbat Ki Hai Mukhtasar, Na Jaaney Kyun), and introduced me to some songs I had not heard before (Chaaye Chaaye, Aakhri Alvida, Zinda Hoon) but to which I've been listening nonstop since the concert!

Songs I liked: Na Jaane Kyun, Kahani Mohabbat Ki, Dhuur (their most famous song), Chaaye Chaaye, Anjaney

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