Great Performances at Vanderbilt wrapped up their 2011-2012 season with Red Baraat, a Bhangra funk group that recently played the White House. "Baraat" is the term for an Indian wedding procession, and the performance felt like a celebration, with the 200 or so audience members dancing through the entire set of electrifying songs. The show was a solid end to an outstanding Great Performances season that included Spanish piano, Indian theater and Israeli and Taiwanese dance.
Red Baraat’s leader Sunny Jain called the audience to the front to dance in four easy steps. Step 1: Put your hands in the air. Step 2: Shrug your shoulders. Step 3: Twist your wrists. Step 4: Shake your hips. All were too eager to comply. The revelrous dancers included a girl who stood on someone’s shoulders, a guy in a cast, and another who whistled along to every song. It was really “come one, come all” as everyone kicked up their heels and danced to music that mashed up influences such as head-banging punk rock and rap. They didn't play a single ballad.
The energy in the room peaked when sousaphonist John Altieri came forward and spit out the line, “We about to kill some beats,” which silenced the band. He then flashed his back to the audience, and after a few seconds of silence, spun back around cuing all of the musicians to come back in full force as he puffed out the bass line. The crowd demanded an encore, which the band delivered twofold.
When asked what it was like playing in Nashville, percussionist Rohin Kheman said, “It was a blast. We had a really diverse audience, who all ended up dancing. We all had a really great time.” Great Performances will resume with a new program in the fall after summer break. For Red Baraat, their international tour has only just begun.