Not just because it is the biggest rock music event in the country, Joy Bangla Concert stands apart as it comes across as a unique blend of history and music. But this year’s Joy Bangla Concert, the fourth edition of the mega musical event, was different on many other counts.
Since 2015, the Joy Bangla Concert has been offering a unique opportunity to Young Bangla, the organizer, to rekindle the spirit of the historic 7th-March speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the minds of the youth of today.
Why is something that happened almost 50 years ago, important for today’s youth? It’s important because they must know how they came into being; how the Bangalee nation came into being; and what role that 19-minute speech played in the birth of a nation.
The world also recognizes the electrifying effects of that speech, which is now officially a world documentary heritage, having been inducted in the “Memory of the World Register” by UNESCO. So, the Joy Bangla Concert 2018 was the perfect place to let the youth of today know what the world thought about that great speech.
The concert itself was “bigger, better, and louder” than all its predecessors. For the first time in its history, this year Joy Bangla Concert hosted Powersurge, arguably the most popular thrash metal band from the country’s underground scene.
“We never thought that we would ever headline at the Joy Bangla Concert,” said Powersurge vocalist Jamshed before starting their performance.
The fact that the underground rock star was clearly overwhelmed didn’t come as a surprise because the Army Stadium, the venue of all the Joy Bangla Concerts so far, was full to the brim with more than a capacity crowd of 30,000 people.
One core promise of Young Bangla, one of the biggest youth networks in Bangladesh, is to project the good work of young individuals and youth-led organizations at the community level. Giving Powersurge the big break at the Joy Bangla Concert as a headliner perfectly coincides with that promise.
Apart from the other regular features including Cryptic Fate, Nemesis, Arbovirus, Lalon, Shunno and Chirkutt, the Joy Bangla Concert 2018 brought back massively popular progressive rock band Artcell as the showstopper.
“This is the best sound we have ever had in a rock concert in Bangladesh,” said Artcell vocalist and guitarist Lincoln between two songs.
The general feeling among the crowd was that every band was at their best; every performance was gripping; every band trickled the adrenaline glands just right.
Stage and time management was so good that the audience didn’t have to wait out more than a few minutes between the performance of two bands – just enough time for a breather between two scintillating performances.
These few minutes of breather were not wasted either. There were screenings of a special message from Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, who explained why Bangabandhu’s 7th-March speech was inducted into the Memory of the World Register, and what it meant to the world and to the nation.
And as usual, there was a special screening of the speech. But this time, the screening was preceded by a special documentary that elaborated the turn of events from December 7, 1970 up till the buildup to March 7, 1971.
The capacity crowd was equally gripped by these audiovisuals as they were with the performances.
Apart from the massive crowd at the venue, several million people at home and abroad watched the event live on several satellite TV channels and Young Bangla’s Facebook and YouTube.
The Joy Bangla Concert 2018 was different also because this is the first time that Young Bangla took the musical event outside Dhaka. Popular rock bands Nemesis and Mechanix performed in two separate caravan concerts – styled “Road to 7th-March” concert – at Sylhet and Khulna on March 2 and 5 respectively.
The event was sponsored by United Group, Square Group, Gemcon Group, Hamid Group, Orion Group, Beximco and Summit Group and Polar was the ice-cream partner.
Joy Bangla Concert 2018’s TV production partner was Channel 9, broadcast partner Ekattor TV, technology partner Microsoft, internet partner aamra Companies, media partners Dhaka Tribune, Daily Samakal, Daily Ittefaq, Bangla Tribune, bdnews24.com, Somoy TV, RTV, Boishakhi TV and Gaan Bangla TV; and event management partner was Mainspring.