This year ended with a bang for us – lovers of rock music. Perhaps, there will not be another string of concerts enough to culminate the uproar of feelings that kept on building up inside us throughout the year, as we await the arrival of winter and the stream of concerts it brings with it.
After the monumental success of Joy Bangla Concert, Big Rock Day 2019 and 20 Years of Artcellism, Dhaka Rock Fest was another name to be added to the list of open-air bangers this year.
Dhaka Rock Fest took place in the Expo Zone of International Convention City Bashundhara at Purbachal Express Highway of the capital. The concert set off for the evening at 4.00pm with Sin performing songs from their debut album Bhool. The album was released in March this year.
As the crowd started streaming in, Conclusion opened their performance with Ondho Porajoy from their debut album Mohakashchari, which was released in January last year. They played a number of their other originals such as Purbo, Tiroshkar and Shajo Tumi from the album. To wrap it up, they performed their latest release Odyssey – and the crowd chimed in with them, instantly recognizing the song. Odyssey was an instant hit among fans upon its release. Conclusion guitarist Ekram Wasi was taken by surprise by the crowd as one fan screamed "Happy birthday, Wasi!" and the whole crowd followed suit.
Following Conclusion, Owned got on the stage and performed songs from their albums Owned 1 and Owned 2, pouring in more hype among the expanding crowd.
By this time, the crowd's enthusiasm was reaching its peak and just as everyone was gearing up to experience another ground-breaking performance, Trainwreck took over the stage. It is safe to say that their fans – overwhelmed with anticipation, formed mosh pits and headbanged with all their might as Trainwreck opened their performance with their original Veil of Discord. With powerful guitar riffs, drum beats, and the signature heavy metal vocalisation, Trainwreck performed 909 – a crowd favourite.
After Trainwreck's havoc, it was time for Bay of Bengal to rip the stage to shreds. The Bay of Bengal frontman Bakhtiar Hossain came to the front of the stage with his guitar and flute - two of his signature instruments. Opening the performance with an original piece, the band hailing from Chittagong concluded their performance with Je Shohore Ami Nei, from their debut album Nirob Durvikkho, incorporating Baktiar's extraordinary flute playing with lead guitars backing up the melody.
One of the most anticipated artists of the night was Arnob and Friends, who took to the stage next. The crowd started cheering for Arnob as soon as he was seen climbing up the stage's steps. Performing his hit Hariye Giyechi, the crowd made sure Arnob was not the only one to sing. Accompanying Arnob was Imran Ahmed on guitar and Pantha Kanai on the drums – who performed the famous Nouka Jomin Natai. Arnob and Friends performed more hits like Shey Je Boshe Ache and Tomar Jonno among other songs. The moment of surprise for the crowd was when Arnob started playing the bass – an instrument he seldom plays live.
With anticipation on a rolling boil, AvoidRafa took over the crowd, kicking off his performance with Ami Akash Pathabo. The crowd, pleased as always with the performance, eagerly listened on as Rafa sang Anmone 2 before making room for Powersurge on the stage.
The thrash metal band Powersurge refused to give the crowd any room to breathe. Opening their performance with their rendition of Nagar Baul's Sultana Bibiyana, the crowd could do nothing but to bang their heads and form yet another mosh pit. Cranking up the crowd's madness a notch higher, Powersurge covered Master of Puppets by Metallica as the crowd dived in excitedly into a pool of sheer satisfaction.
With two more bands left to perform, Arbovirus got on the stage and the crowd instantly went wild. Straying away from their usual setlist, Arbovirus performed four of their latest GP Music releases. The Arbovirus drummer, Nafeez Al Amin, broke his drumsticks in half, threw it at the crowd and jumped at them – as the crowd happily crowd-surfed Nafeez before placing him back on the ramp.
To end their performance with the full-throttle energy of an alternative rock band, Arbovirus performed fan favourites Jaalo Agun Jaalo and Mukhosh from which the crowd – me included – borrowed power and sang along until our hearts bled. As their performance ended, the crowd finally found some room to breathe and exclaimed that any Arbovirus concert feels incomplete without the last two pieces.
The headliners, Nemesis, were the last band to perform as the curtains of Dhaka Rock Fest 2019 were set to fall. Spending over 10 minutes on soundcheck, Nemesis finally geared up and hit off with Janala, and Ghuri followed. Most people in the crowd could guess that the next song to be performed was Obocheton since Powersurge frontman Jamshed was welcomed on stage by Nemesis frontman Zohad Reza Chowdhury. The crowd also geared up as they simply had to sing along as soon as Jamshed screamed "Hey!" into the mic. Kobe was the last song Nemesis performed and swooped the crowd off their feet one last time as the final show of the decade came to an end, promising a new beginning for music in 2020.