Playing their last show of the year, party band Red Baraat stopped by Washington D.C.’s U Street Music Hall Nov. 24 and treated the crowd to one hell of a show. Comprised of eight men, the band blends a variety of genre
s from funk to hip-hop to jazz, and through the use of a dhol, they can add a twist of northern Indian music.
Trombone player and self-described sensualist Smoota opened for the band. His music, much slower and more lyric-based, is quite different from Red Baraat’s, so it was an unexpected way to open, and it took the crowd a couple of songs to become familiar with him. However, by the time he got to a piece called “Ballbuster,” which he described as being about those who partake in abnormal sexual activities, the crowd was on his side.
Next up was the headliner, Red Baraat. When they took to the stage, the crowd went absolutely w
ild, and upon their opening song, “Fully Fantastique,” a substantial amount of people in the middle began busting out their best bhangra moves. They danced throughout the entire set, and although they got a little too rowdy for security’s taste a few times, they kept the party going in the front all night long.
The band kept the energy up on stage as well. Although rather large as an eight-man band, they were cohesive, and all the members seemed to effectively play off of one another. Each musician was in full control of his instrument, and they all played with complete expertise. Red Baraat played 10 full songs during the regular set, and each
piece pulled from a variety of influences — in one, trumpet player Sonny Singh rapped and tubist John Altieri did so in another — but the set seemed to have an overarching cohesiveness.
For the entire set, Sunny Jain was at the forefront, pounding away on his dhol and keeping the beat steady and the entire audience on its feet. At the end of the band’s set, Smoota once again joined them on stage to help out with vocals and then play trombone with Ernest Stuart. The last couple of songs had an electric vibe — a high-energy way to end the show.
Throughout, all of the musicians played with incredible expertise and energy. The crowd loved every second, and it was great to see the interactions among audience members, band members and everyone in between. It’s true that the real magic of Red Baraat is that they are able to bring together a bunch of people from very different walks of life for the same reason: to enjoy some amazing music.