Catching up on a few shows I’ve seen in the last few weeks… in no particular order.
Red Baraat: I’m not always very good at deciding what genre any given band is, but they describe themselves as “Bhangra Funk Dhol’n’Brass.” (I’m not sure that really helps!) The eight-piece band consists entirely of percussion and brass. This was a classic case of a good band that isn’t really up my alley; they had the crowd excited and dancing for most of the set, but for my taste I would have jettisoned the dance/hip-hop influence. My ears would have liked more of the brass band sound. That said, it was still a fun and danceable show. You can check out their NPR Tiny Desk concert here:
Local band Evolfo Doofeht opened for them, and I was having a hard time making up my mind about their set. They described themselves as “gypsy funk” – I probably would have liked them more if the gypsy part was more prominent. To me it sounded like pretty straight up funk/R&B type music. In parts it was too smooth and clean for me, but in parts I thought they really had some promise. They are a pretty young band, so they might be one to keep an eye on if they develop in the right directions. I’d suggest spending more effort on their solos than their costumes, for a start – no one is going to be impressed with the trombonist’s furry purple suit if he can’t musically knock it out of the park. (Well… maybe a LITTLE impressed. It was awfully purple.)
The Red Baraat/Evolfo Doofeth concert was also my first time at the Sinclair, a new Harvard Square venue. I had heard a lot of “it’s like the House of Blues, but small” and I can definitely see that, although I think the smallness has solved a lot of the problems plaguing the House of Blues. I actually really liked it as a mid-size venue – definitely nicer than the Middle East Downstairs (and far better sound), and a little more sophisticated than Brighton Music Hall (and a lot more convenient to me). I need more visits to make up my mind, but first impressions were that the sightlines were pretty good, the sound is decent, and the one drink I had was competitively priced with other local venues. The only real problem was that their coat check is still under construction, in spite of the fact that they have been open for 6-7 weeks and they opened months later than planned due to all the construction they were doing. I can’t imagine it really takes that long to build a coat check room…? I wonder what the real story is.
I have to admit to seeing Klezwoods at Atwoods Tavern last weekend at least 50% because I had just gotten home from a trip, had no food in the house for dinner, and Atwoods is about four times closer to my house than the grocery store. I ended up being very glad I went, because it might have been my favorite of the 4-5 times I’ve seen them. It’s hard to compare concert to concert sometimes, because there are so many factors in personal enjoyment – did you have a good seat, were you with friends, were you drinking, were you tired, etc. But for one reason or another I really, really enjoyed this one, and I even stayed for the second set in spite of being really tired from my trip. Can’t wait to see them again at Lilypad in March!
Last and… well, maybe least, is the Idan Raichel Project. I went solely because I’d enjoyed the Touré-Raichel Collective last year. I didn’t know any of the music from this project. It turned out to be a really peculiar experience for me, because the music simply didn’t speak to me at all, and I was surrounded by hundreds of completely ecstatic fans, cheering, dancing, rushing the stage, and generally going crazy. I imagine it’s a similar experience to bringing your 12-year-old daughter to see her favorite boy-band. It was much too pop for my tastes and it all seemed overly polished and scripted to me. That’s just my taste, of course, I tend to like my music roughed up and dirty. I hope they continue giving their fans such a fun time, but I won’t be back. I’m sure they won’t miss me too much. 😉