Red Baraat blends Latino melodies with Arabic chords


Red Baraat on the Dibden stage

Red Baraat graced the Dibden theater on Wednesday, Feb. 21, with its extraordinarily unique sound. About a third of the auditorium was occupied; many didn’t know what to expect, including myself, as there are many bands that have performed for Creative Audience events that have varied greatly in style and engagement. However, I was blown away by this band’s refreshingly different sound.

Made up of a sousaphone, electric guitar, standard drum set and traditional dhol drum, oboe and trumpet, the combination of traditional orchestra pieces and rock instruments clashed into a kaleidoscopic sensation of chest-reverberating bass, Latino melodies and snaking Arabic chords.

Listening to this band felt like exploring a brightly colored bowl of fresh fruit. It was like the music was drawn from the best aspects of several different styles; the brass elements from jazz, the richness of Indian wedding music and the high-energy tempo of Latin music. Such genres don’t immediately seem to connect, but this group of professionals displayed their talent and hard work for perfecting their art.

Originating from Brooklyn, New York, the band was born in 2008. The lead performer, Sunny Jain, is a successful drummer and decorated jazz performer of South-Asian descent. Coda Magazine commended him for the “ground breaking synthesis” of his internationally acclaimed collection of seven albums prior to conception of the band. With his ingenious hand in contributing to the group’s pieces, he has masterfully turned Indian wedding music into updated, head-banging modern pieces, with elements of Western genres.

During the concert, people were drawn to their feet and gathered around the stage, getting lost in the juicy tones and perfectly danceable beats.

About three songs in, the front man paused the performance to have the enthralled audience participate in a little dance contest, in which four breathless and bouncing people volunteered to get up onstage and, amongst the instruments and players, dance to an improvisational tune. This riled up the crowd, renewing their excitement and adding an element of interactivity that felt natural and welcoming.

Many also enjoyed an amusing but impressive sousaphone solo performed by the one white dude in the group who was wearing sunglasses later into the night, inspiring overexcited cheers and joy. As a matter of fact, the performers themselves appeared to be enjoying themselves; none seemed stoic or snobby, all smiling, swaying to the beat, and genuinely getting lost in the music they were playing.

Among the set list were most memorably the “Punjabi Wedding Song” and “Chaal Baby.” “Chaal Baby,” the opener, was an immediate crowd pleaser, giving a non-verbal invitation to stand up and dance. Many did. The “Punjabi Wedding Song,” a song with a particularly Indian-pop sound, had an ironically rebellious vibe.

From start to finish, Red Baraat gave the audience an engaging, high-energy dance experience that never slowed down or lost its spark. If you’re looking to get lost for an hour or two in some good music, I highly recommend Red Baraat.