Red Baraat – Webster Hall – March 29, 2013
Ain’t no party like a Holi party, am I right? Let me explain: Holi is the Festival of Colors,
a Hindu holiday that marks the beginning of spring (and it gets kind of crazy in India). Red Baraat, the Brooklyn Bhangra funk band, curated a show at Webster Hall to commemorate the festivities, complete with a thousand-person Indian dance primer—because whenever Red Baraat are on, you need to know how to dance. The band, led by Sunny Jain on dhol (a double-sided, barrel-shaped North Indian drum) and rounded out by a six other players, including a dreadlocked bass trumpeter and strutting sousaphone player, fuse Punjabi pop, New Orleans funk, New York City hip-hop, D.C. go-go and what seems to be a million other influences into one party-starting sound. And, no doubt, the party definitely went off the chain on Friday night.
The band’s standout performance of “Shruggy Ji,” the title track of their latest album, perfectly encapsulated the night. Jain and Co. shouted to “shrug your shoulders and twist your wrists” in classic Indian-dance fashion. The crew yelled chants of “brrrrrrrrrrrrah,” “uh huh!” and other traditional hip-hop calls to coax the crowd to dance. There was call-and-response, plus several high-octane solos, a dancehall breakdown and a monster trombone-led freak-out at the end. The audience paralleled the band’s movement and beckoned every call on that song and throughout the energetic and incredibly entertaining night. I’ll be shrugging my shoulders to their funk ’til I drop. —Alex Kapelman