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The great gig under the sky

As the second edition of Lahore Music Meet concludes, Instep speaks to a diverse group of artists who share their participation experience and reflect on the importance of this festival.

The great gig under the sky
Lahore Music Meet is a fantastic platform for the industry; it brings together people of all ages to celebrate music.

The second edition of Lahore Music Meet, held at the Alhamra Art Center, wrapped up last week but not before winning the hearts of the music industry. Bringing together enthusiasts, artisans, artists, patrons, industry representatives and academics, LMM’s goals include initiating dialogue on the developments in music as well as issues that plague the industry.

Given the recent terror attack in Lahore, which has left the cultural city reeling with absolute grief, the festival’s return also served as a symbol of hope at a time of great sorrow. A festival like LMM, in entirety, ultimately provides hope to not just artists but also to citizens and inculcates a sense of community and connection.

Perhaps the festival’s single greatest strength is that it is inclusive in nature. This means there’s room for mainstream names like Ali Zafar and Noori, both of whom featured in this year’s edition but also for folk giants like Mai Dhai and lesser known but equally breathtaking indie names like Shahzad Noor (Shorbanoor), Ali Suhail and several others.

Dedicated to the cause of music, this year’s event, spread over the course of two days included a series of seminars on topics that are relevant and serve both artists and fans.  Curiously designed panels like Scoring for the Big Screen: Soundtracks and Music in Pakistani Cinema, Evolution of Music Videos in Pakistan, Band Dynamics, Learning to See Music, Sound Therapy, (In)corporating Music, The Dissemination of Music in the Digital Age and Locating our Heritage: Traditional Folk Music in Pakistan, provided attendees an opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of music across dimensions.

And now, to the founders and artists, who reflect on their experience as panelists or performers as well as the importance of LMM.

Natasha Noorani

Founder Lahore Music Meet

“In its second year, LMM has been more challenging and even more rewarding. We’re growing at a modest scale and I couldn’t be happier about it. The best experience of LMM has been the stories I’ve gotten to hear about or new music.  We’re excited that we got a chance to connect people and provide a space for music to be experienced.

Our set list of speakers and musicians have been extremely exciting and fun to work with and we’re excited to see where the next LMM is going to go.”

Zahra Paracha Co-Founder – Lahore Music Meet

“This year’s LMM represented the ongoing struggle of bringing together artists and musicians in a divided industry. Last year marked the beginning of our efforts, and this year we saw a bigger and greater response.

We met several new artists and musicians who absolutely blew us away with their skills and talent. LMM has always been and will always remain a platform to introduce the unrecognised talent of this country to the people. We had our flaws and were lacking in certain areas throughout the two days, but our overall efforts were fuelled by our own desire to see the industry become something more than it currently is.

LMM was by far tougher than last year, but the reaction has been so positive that I believe we can up our game next year. Our industry is often referred to as a dying one, but I’d say that it is now waking up considering the feedback and audience response we have received.”

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Rachel Viccaji

“My experience at LMM was great. I love how involved people were in my session; they really made it come to life; and it’s always wonderful to see people appreciating, supporting and contributing to the arts. We must have more public events like this.”

Zoe Viccaji

Zoe Viccaji

Zoe Viccaji

“We had a very interesting panel called incorporating music with myself, Umnia Iftikaar and Jamal Rahman moderated by Selina R. Khan, where we explored the idea of artists and corporates working together, and the pros and cons of mixing music with business.

It’s amazing that there are so many music festivals popping up, and I think it is my duty as an artist to be a part of them, and facilitate them as much as possible, especially when people are making such a big effort to put them together. Natasha Noorani and her team did a brilliant job of the Lahore Music Meet! My sister Rachel and Taimoor Salahuddin had an especially interesting session where they  gave the audience a glimpse of what it was like to put together musical arrangements especially those for acapella pieces. The entire audience was part of the music and those who started out shy were also joining in whole heartedly by the end. I feel that’s one example of how music festivals are a lovely community building vehicle.

We also performed on the second day and had a brilliant audience. Performing for the public especially in the setting of a music festival is so rewarding.”

Jamal Rahman

Jamal Rahman

Jamal Rahman

“Music festivals are a fantastic way to bring fans and artists together at one event for a collective experience. They help punctuate the year with the best of what’s around, facilitate collaboration and enable community building. LMM in particular adds a layer of intellectual discourse that encourages insight, interaction and further understanding, all of which are necessary to reconstitute the culture of music and performance.”

Sara Haider

“As a musician I need to work on my craft constantly and festivals like Lahore Music Meet provide people a platform to evolve. For aspiring musicians it also gives the opportunity to interact and share experiences with the music community. LMM is a great initiative and Lahore as always has been the hub of culture and arts. I look forward to the next edition of this event.”

Naseer & Shahab

“Music festivals like LMM are a necessary part of the healthy musical economy and it gives us all musicians an opportunity to network among each other, show case our music to a diverse audience and take the barely surviving music industry to where it should have been.

We played an acoustic set at LMM and I had a great time there. The audience loved the way Naseer & Shahab engages them with their music and that’s one of the integral parts of our live performance.

Natasha and her team did an amazing job managing the event and making it a success. It has been a great experience for me personally and I hope I get to be here again. Thank you.”

Taha Malik

“I had a great time at the Lahore Music Meet — discovered new music, met old friends, planned new projects. Kudos to Natasha and the LMM crew for making it happen! Can’t wait to do it all over again.”

Zohaib Kazi

“Initiative like the Lahore Music Meet is a fantastic way to bridge barriers between the artists and the audience – giving both entities an opportunity to share, experience and acknowledge each other’s presence. It was incredible to see both parties share the same platform to express themselves in their own unique way.

LMM should be credited in creating a community of like-minded musicians together, considering our current music scene is lagging on this front in comparison to fashion, TV or film industry.

LMM had a great vibe, a great atmosphere – and in my opinion, it stands as a bold ‘nationalistic’ statement in the trying times of the country that we’re a resilient nation and that we always stand up and always will.


“It’s cool to see that people in Pakistan are actually interested in heavy music, and want to know how we approach it. I never thought we’d be giving a workshop at a kick ass festival when we started out five years ago. All the artists that were involved have come a long way since they started out, and its festivals such as the LMM that keep us moving forward. Onwards and upwards!”

Shahzad Noor (Shorbanoor):

“As a performer, the LMM was absolutely fantastic. It was even better than last year. I haven’t played a show in a long time and I’m glad I played here. Kudos to Natasha and the team. Looking forward to next year.”

Taimoor Salahuddin (Mooroo)

Taimoor Salahuddin (Mooroo)

Taimoor Salahuddin (Mooroo)

“Playing live at #LMM16 not only provided me an opportunity to connect with my fans, but also an opportunity to access crossover audiences of other artists. It was overall a great experience. The talks were edifying and the sessions were also very engaging.”

Ali Suhail

“I had a really good time! The vibe was happy there, everyone seemed to have a good time. There was something for everyone, if not entirely then at least enough to make uncharted tastes palatable for people who wouldn’t normally be open to something outside of what they’re used to. For example, there were old uncles and aunties jamming out to Red Blood Cat and very ‘YO’ looking, fitted cap wearing, hip-hop looking people grooving out to Esakhelvi.  Good scene that!”

Haroon Rashid

“LMM was a fantastic experience for me personally. I was so heartened to see musicians and music fans come out to support the event. Events like this are very important as they promote our Pakistani music & culture, provide a platform for new talent as well as a being wonderful entertaining event for Lahoris. I found that it is also a great avenue for music industry professionals to come together and share ideas and find ways to work together for the greater good of the music industry. We need events like this in every major city of Pakistan. I wish the LMM team much success and I will continue to lend my support in the future.”

Ali Hamza (Noori)

Ali Hamza (Noori)

Ali Hamza (Noori)

“I think this is an opportunity for people in the music scene to meet and have some fruitful discussions on the past present and future of Pakistani music. Sharing notes always helps in improving our personal journeys as members of this community, and helps the greater good of the music scene as well.”

Sikandar Mufti

“I spoke about the nature and origins of percussion, and its utility in music.

I think events like LMM are of great importance to the community because they bring the arts to society in a positive, accessible and constructive way.”

Ahsan Bari

Ahsan Bari (Sounds of Kolachi)

Ahsan Bari (Sounds of Kolachi)

“My topic was ‘Music Composition’. My session was based around the basic concepts of music compositions. Music festivals offer a unique experience. You get a chance to listen to various sounds, thoughts and perceptions.  LMM is a great effort by brilliant professionals.

I performed with my ensemble Sounds of Kolachi. It’s an orchestra comprised of 12-15 musicians. We played a set comprised of our original compositions.”

Sanwal Esakhelvi, Attaullah Esakhelvi’s son

Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi

Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi

“I have utter respect for the team that initially thought about conducting such an event and then making it possible.  It’s imperative that artists – from old musicians to young talent – are promoted regularly for the sake of keeping the art alive and this is why credit goes to everyone involved. Great work.”

— Photo credits:  Iman & Nadir

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