Whoever comes to Austin falls in love with the city and wants to keep coming back. That is what happened to Shallum Xavier, the founding member of hit Pakistani rock band, Fuzon, when he came last year for the Citizens Foundation Fundraiser. It wasn’t’ just the city, but also the people and yes we love to take the credit. So when this year a small off beat opportunity came up to play to a different crowd in Austin, Shallum did not hesitate one bit. He invited well-known Pakistani singer, Zoe Viccaji, to try the local club scene.
The Sahara Lounge is really a quaint little local club scene. Tucked in the depths of East Austin, this shack like structure and its unpaved parking lot would mostly go unnoticed if it were not for the famous musicians who come to perform there. The place has a unique culture with a tiny floor embedded within a wooden room with wood posts supporting a low ceiling. Chili lights adorn the walls and vintage curtains here and there with odds and ends for trimmings grab your attention for a second as your eyes begin to scan the surroundings in dim light.
One can understand why well-known musicians would want to perform here. This is the place where a true musician can feel the pulse of the crowd. Shallum said, “ We were wearing our creative shoes and most of the performance was improvised… there were many moments throughout our set list where we spontaneously took the music forward.”
Zoe with the comfort of Shallum as her experienced guitarist was on the roll. She had the audience clapping, swooning and literally jumping and singing along with her own hit songs and those of Nazia Hasan.
A die-hard fan of Nazia, Zoe Viccaji looked radiant when singing her favorite star’s songs. Her own deep voice appealed to the bigger American crowd rather than just those of Pakistani origin. Zoe was having fun! Perhaps it was because her best friend, Sanam Saeed, the Pakistani television sensation and star of Zindagi Gulzar Hay, was present to give her best friend support.
Sanam Saeed and Zoe Viccaji, two successful stars of Pakistan shone through the evening and humbly accepted all requests for selfies. The evening went on to another performance by an Iranian singer. Many stayed and most left trying to get their own pictures with the stars.
Shallum enjoyed the whole scene during the performance. He said, “The feedback from the audience was incredible energy booster… As far as I am concerned such intimate sessions are important to develop a strong bond with fans and all music lovers.” He hopes to come back to Austin soon and knowing him and his fans, something will already be in the works soon.