Shonar Bangla Circus has long been a well-known name on the Bangla band circuit. After releasing their first concept album, 'Hyena Express,' the band was due to perform their first live show. However, given the global pandemic, the gig finally happened last Thursday.
Associated with Dhaka University Band Society (DUBS), Shonar Bangla Circus' (SBC) first-ever solo concert, 'Hyena Express Experience', was held at the TSC auditorium, University of Dhaka. The gates opened around 6 PM local time.
The regular lineup comprising vocalist Probar Ripon, guitarist Seth Panduranga Blumberg, bassist Shakil Haque, drummer Raju and keyboard player Saad appeared on the stage at 7:45 PM with the title track Hyena Express.
During the next one and a half hour, the band continued cheering the crowd with their psychedelic music, poetic lyrics and in between circus performances.
Continuing from Hyena Express, the band kept on singing Kromosho, Ondho Deyal, Shurjer Ondhokar. They played a two-minute instrumental melody at the end of this song.
Immediately after this performance, the stage lights dimmed off, and a bunch of clowns appeared before the stage. They walked in laughing and presented an act in front of the curious audiences.
While the band kept playing instruments from the dark stage, the clowns portrayed the complex reality of human pain and suffering. Finally, they showcased how people are drawn to greet death and slowly leave the place, keeping the audience bewildered.
However, the stage glittered with blue and red light shades, and Probar Ripon began singing Perfumer Fele Deya Botol with his soft voice. They tuned a minute-long, intense instrumental melody with this song too.
By the halfway of the evening, the crowd was already shivered and overwhelmed by the experimental music of SBC. However, the band did not let the flow go down as they began playing their signature song Mrittu Utpadon Karkhana right away the melody.
As soon as Probar Ripon chanted the first few verses, a bunch of enthusiastic crowds gathered before the stage, singing the whole lyrics along with the band. The crowd rhythm never fell down a bit throughout the nine-minute performance. And the excitement continued to rise till the evening came to a conclusion.
After that, the stage fell into darkness, and the clowns appeared again. Beneath vibrating crimson shades, four clowns imitated the brutal consequences of conflict. The act resembled how the conflict between groups led human civilisations to kill each other.
Ultimately, after killing our counterparts, our nature drives us to kill our own people and leaves us with loneliness and the grim option of Attohotta( Suicide). Seth Panduranga Blumberg played a melancholic background score alongside the act.
As soon as the last clown triggered the bullet inside his head, the blue lights flashed back to the direction of the stage, and Probar Ripon started singing Attohottar Gaan. Then the band played Amar Naam Oshukh and preached a closing remark before concluding the evening with their famous track Epitaph.
During the lockdowns, the songs of Shonar Bangla Circus gained immense popularity among the youth. Listeners who were forced to isolate themselves by being compelled to stay indoors began to connect to the music from their hearts.
According to the band, a sincere expression of love from their listeners over the last two years of isolation has been the best gift the band has received.
Since the situation was a little manageable to get back to business, the band did not miss the chance to express their heartfelt music back to their listeners, live and loud, for the first time, in a musical, theatrical kind of display.
In a post-event interview with The Business Standard, Seth Panduranga Blumberg said, "We are thrilled and amazed with the massive response from the crowd. But, this is just the beginning. In the coming days, we will be doing a lot of such live shows and creating music."
Dhaka University Band Society (DUBS) was the co-organiser of 'Hyena Express Experience' and its current President, Enayet Hossain, remarked, "This indoor concert has proven to be a big booster for normalising the regular concert trend in DU campus. Therefore, from now on, except for charity concerts, the society will focus only on arranging ticket-based indoor concerts since art is not for free."