I remember the first concert that I attended with my over-enthusiastic friends back in the 90s. All of us appeared freakily excited mainly because Junoon was performing and partly because concerts were the rite of passage for most of us teenagers. We would run up to get the tickets and tried convincing our parents because attending concerts used to be the coolest form of entertainment back then! But of course, it was a long time back!
If you are the 90s born like me, you have also witnessed the golden era of Pakistani pop music. During the time when social and cultural events were almost nonexistent, the pop concerts kept the charm of live entertainment alive for the music buffs. The younger generation could live their free spirit and a slightly wilder side of life through these concerts. It was an out of the world feeling to see your music idols performing live on stage, getting their autographs after making way through never-ending quo, and spending a crazy time with your friends-even if your parents won’t approve!
Be it Gumby in Islamabad, Rafi Peer in Lahore, or Junoon in Karachi, concerts were the life blood of Pakistani pop music. Now, we hardly come across them anymore. The ones that happen are rather commercial which we end up watching on YouTube, so why bother going? Or maybe we have more convenient entertainment mediums then live performances? Concerts are just not happening anymore and we know the reasons fairly well!
In the last few years, the public gathering has become dangerous as safety concerns hang over our heads. We are even afraid to congregate our national days and festivals, let alone attending open air concerts. With bolder attacks by the terrorists impacting the sensitive parts of the country, the security can clearly be no longer ensured. Given such uncertainty, the decline of concerts was imminent. It is unfortunate yet the most logical answer to why concerts don’t happen anymore!
We have more Alternatives
Social media has made entertainment way more convenient. The new generation would stream concerts online than to think about attending one. The instant communication and entertainment that social media lend are making us forger the real moment in which we are involved. Our attention span is lowest and the Smartphone ubiquity has resulted in an increasing percentage of the audience that hardly pays attention to live entertainment. Given this habit coupled with pressing security concerns, the alternatives sound safer and instantly fun!
The audience is selective and venues are Indoor!
In the face of vanishing concerts, other alternatives have emerged. We now witness indoor concerts with thinner crowed and obscure venues. The invitations have become exclusive to mainly media personnel and blogger. Remember the recent Cornetto pop rock? How many of us had any idea about the event? The record labels and artists also perform in the underground parties or social gatherings instead of entertaining a mass audience. Such social events are mostly confined to film screenings, stand-up comedy or book launches. It’s just that artists are limiting themselves to a smaller audience, so open air concerts are entirely diminishing from the spectrum. These smaller events translate into more elite crowds when concerts should be about getting a wide variety of audience on board.
Pakistani culture is becoming a luxury good, the goal of which is to paint the society glossy and savor the high society events. Undoubtedly, security has hurt the presence of concerts in the country, but the reasons go beyond just safety concerns. Our changing preferences and lifestyle also played a significant role in gradually fading concerts in Pakistan. However, if we keep the security issues aside for a moment, Pakistan has the resources to provide the youth their fair share of quality live entertainment, but does the youth really passionately look forward to it? We can only hope the concerts get their lost glory back and sway the audience like they once used to!