Pepsi Battle of the Bands is a show that kicked off in 2002. A talent hunt geared towards discovering new rock bands and exploring rock culture in Pakistan, Pepsi Battle of the Bands was a great hit with the younger generation. In the first season, pathbreaking bands like Entity Paradigm, Aaroh, The Mekaal Hassan Band and Mizmaar were introduced with Fifi Haroon, Rohail Hyatt and Shahi Hassan serving as judges. Entity Paradigm and Aaroh made it to the finale with Aaroh emerging as the winners.
After 15 years, Pepsi Battle of the Bands returned in 2017 with season 2. With Fawad Afzal Khan, Meesha Shafi, Atif Aslam and Shahi Hassan (and occasionally Farooq Ahmed) serving as judges, season 2 was a welcome change to the scene with Pakistani music lovers starved for original rock music. Season 2 brought solid talents like Badnaam, Kashmir and Pindi Boys to the forefront with the final battle between Kashmir and Badnaam. While Kashmir won the competition, both bands went on to amass a fan following.
Season 3 in 2018 brought in Strings as judges with Fawad Khan and Meesha Shafi returning to take their place on the panel as well. This season introduced some great bands, including Tamasha, Xarb, Bayaan and Sarmasta. The finale saw Xarb and Bayaan head to head with Bayaan emerging as the winners of the season.
Season 4 of the show premiered on June 29, 2019 with the judge panel remaining the same as season 3. However, this time around, the host has changed with Hina Altaf stepping in to fill Ayesha Omer’s shoes. In the preliminary auditions, promising bands like Neon, Starzone Auj and Skehlaaj were shortlisted, amongst others, the season entertaining from episode 1 itself. The band Starzone comprises of a lead singer from Canada who quit her job to join the competition. With stories like this, the stakes are much higher, ensuring that everyone will give their 110% regarding performances in order to make the cut. The judges are knowledgeable and it’s great to see their understanding of music from different perspectives, whether it be music, instruments or composition. This is a deserving panel of judges and each one, from Fawad to Meesha to Strings, knows their forte very well.
With such a dearth of Pakistani music on the scene today, Pakistani music fans find themselves looking toward Coke Studio and Nescafe basement to find worthwhile music. Both these shows are loved throughout the country, headed by musical geniuses such as Xulfi (Nescafe Basement) and Rohail Hyatt (Coke Studio). With Pepsi Battle of the Bands though, bands are given a platform to sell themselves as a unit and the top bands gain a following, which allows them to put out a successful original album – something which is lacking on the scene today. While only the first episode has aired as yet, season 4 promises to be one worth watching from the onset.