Last night, The Marcus Center’s Live at Peck Pavilion outdoor music series had their final scheduled performance with New York’s Red Baraat (http://redbaraat.com). This was the band’s third time playing in Milwaukee as they played for one of the larger audiences of the outdoor concert series from 7:30-9 p.m.
In a recent interview, Red Baraat’s trombone player Ernest Stuart described the band’s musical chemistry saying,
It all comes together very naturally. It’s not forced and I know for sure that it was no one’s intention to create that particular sound…. We all brought these different influences and we began writing for the band and putting in our own ideas and our own little nuances that are formed from where we came from musically and you get this sound that’s very American and very, very Brooklyn.
The eight-piece band definitely delivered the Brooklyn sound as they brought constant high-energy dance music representing a range of cultures and genres. While the majority of the concert was fast-paced beats, the group played with rhythm and tempo in a way that built the energy to an epic conclusion. Their 90-minute performance of high-energy dance beats is difficult to describe other than an on-stage party. The North Indian bhangra rhythms are mixed with elements of jazz, go-go, brass funk, and hip-hop, creating a combination of sounds and rhythms.
Red Baraat consists of MC/Dhol player Sunny Jain, percussionist Rohin Khemani, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, soprano saxophone player Mike Bomwell, vocals/trumpet player Sonny Singh, vocals/bass trumpet player MiWi La Lupa, trombone player Ernest Stuart, and rap/sousaphone player John Altieri. Yet no one band member sticks out as the frontman. Originator Sunny Jain is center stage and did slightly more communicating and vocal solos than the other members, but if they had been staged differently, one wouldn’t know who started the band, because they perform as such a unit. The band has a remarkable ability to take eight different instruments played by such a versatile group of musicians, and blend the sounds and personalities in a way that works so naturally.
When asked the kind of reaction he hopes audiences get from Red Baraat, Ernest stated,
I think the worst thing that can happen is if someone doesn’t have any reaction to it…impartial to the music. I would rather people really love it or hate it, but most people seem to really enjoy themselves. We hope people get a really good feeling that they can take to the next day and the day after that and the rest of the week!
Unfortunately, the Milwaukee audience didn’t outwardly express the kind of dance-ready enthusiasm Red Baraat hopes for. The band managed to get the audience on their feet, leading them in a dance towards the beginning of the concert, but patrons sat back down once the person in front of them did so. Whether this be a case of self-consciousness or mid-week exhaustion, the audience didn’t come close to matching the energy Red Baraat released. However, there were three strangers who found inspiration in the music and got up to dance together in front of the stage. Even though most of the Peck Pavilion patrons weren’t up to standing and dancing, no one could be kept from tapping their feet or bobbing their heads. Red Baraat definitely delivered the high-energy dance party they promised, but perhaps needed a more dance-ready atmosphere such as The Rave or Summerfest on a Friday night to get the audience moving.
There’s no division between the band and the audience. We all just want to have fun!
Drum ‘n’ Brass
Tunak Tunak Tun
For more information about Red Baraat and their upcoming tour dates, please visit http://redbaraat.com.