I had finally found parking after driving around for fifteen minutes near Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. I checked on the phone that it was a twenty-minute walk to the venue.
After walking for about five minutes I thought I could hear Bangla songs. As I kept walking, I could hear Bangla band songs wafting through the air in DC. It felt surreal and I just stopped looking at the phone GPS and followed the songs to the venue.
I walked across the lush green grass with the Washington Monument looming high, its white marble surrounded by thick dark clouds. The kind that adds an ashen hue to the sky, but there is no rain. At this point the stage came into view, I could hear the band on stage playing "Adhare Tumi" by Winning. I could tell that this was going to be a magical evening.
The evening brought back a part of us that we felt we had left in the past. Growing up we would listen to these songs in our rooms; often we could hear the neighbors listen to them too. When passing by in rickshaws in the 1990s you could hear the shops that sold audio cassettes play them out loud.
Then there were the friends who would be on their guitars or drums whenever you saw them. Their first albums would come out and they would have your name there for just being their friend.
You would attend all their concerts religiously, even feel privileged to be in the studio when they were recording or when they were recording for a television channel. But that is a time so far away that you think that part is over.
The eight bands which played the other day at the 'FnF Band Festival' on 9 October, under the Washington Monument proved that false.
In addressing the crowd, Rezwan Siddiqui, better known as Sharif bhai from Kronedge, mentioned that it was a struggle to get to where they were now, to be able to organise a concert with so many bands in the community.
He also mentioned that initially they had started playing just for themselves, but soon enough people started enjoying it and they soon started playing not for themselves but for the growing fan base who wanted to experience a piece of their homeland in this foreign land. The story is perhaps the same for the other bands.
Band Festival 2021 featured a total of eight bands that started playing in the afternoon and played late into the evening after the sun had set long and the moon remained hidden under the clouds. But that went unnoticed as the stage shone bright with the beats of Nafi's (Nasif Farhan) drums or when Parvez (Parvez Aziz) from Shadow Dreams strummed his guitar.
It was a treat to watch Tushar Ahmed from the original band In Dhaka render their iconic song "Aye Raate Ke Hete Jai." It was ethereal listening to "Amae Dekona," one of the classics of Lucky Akhand, and "Ek Din Ghum Bhanga Shohore" by LRB by the band Chorabali.
However, it was not until the lead singer from Kronedge, Rafi Alam, began singing "Neela" by the famous band Miles that the crowd really lost it. They started singing and dancing to the song and made their way to the stage where they danced and sang.
I think everyone was caught off guard by the range of emotions thus released. Those emotions reached their peak when Kronedge started rendering "Joy Bangla Banglar Joy." Then suddenly Toni's (Tanzeem Iqbal's) guitar and Enam Rahman's drums took on a life of their own as the singer sang Purbo Digonte Shurjo Utteche Rokto Lal Rokto Lal. The crowd which was already flying the Red and Green flag nearly went berserk.
Then as quickly as the music had hit its peak the pace changed to a slow rhythm of "Emon Deshti Kothao Khunje Pabe Nako Tumi Shokol Desher Rani Shey Je Amar Jonmo Bhumi" and the singalong crowd just went silent for a moment, perhaps just like me, and went numb under the shadow of the Washington Monument.
The writer is based in Maryland, USA