The annual Winter Jazz Fest in New York City features dozens of acts performing in several venues in and around the East and West Village. This year, one of the most diverse offerings was Brooklyn-based group Red Baraat who serve up a fusion of bhangra, qawwali, funk, jazz and rock plus the addition of a guitarist recently has given their music a new edge. Red Baraat’s set at Le Poisson Rouge followed a set from Sex Mob, a band with a twenty year history behind them. Magnet Magazine described the Mob, “led by slide trumpeter/master of ceremonies Steven Bernstein, the Mob titillated the crowd with their unique New York values and muscular musicianship.” After some turn over in the crowd, a younger and more ethnically mixed crowd made their way to the front, Red Baraat took the stage to power through eight songs and get people dancing. Sinewy Eastern guitar sounds intro-ed “Zindabad” and then the dance party was underway. The audience was superlative, smiling wholeheartedly and dancing as if a fever overtook them. Photos from the wild show plus tour dates for Red Baraat follow below.
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One of the first shows I caught this year was one from a Brooklyn band, San Fermin at their Lincoln Center ‘American Songbook’ show. I wasn’t very familiar with them and they hadn’t yet released their 2015 album Jackrabbit. But their unique, unrestrained baroque pop was memorable and I knew I wanted to check them out again. Fortunately, they were performing a three night run of shows at the Bowery Ballroom to celebrate their third anniversary as a band.
To enhance the merriment, band leader Ellis Ludwig-Leone invited a lot of friends to join San Fermin on stage, both to support San Fermin songs and to share that particular artists material. Some of the guests included Aaron Livingston of Son Little for two numbers including his “The River” (I hadn’t seen a proper set from him this year despite the buzz around him), Nanna Fabricius of Oh Land, Mike Wilbur of Moon Hooch wailing on his saxophone, Casey Dienel of White Hinterland, Kristin Slipp of Cuddle Magic (her song “What If I” was included in the set) and Eliza Bagg and Oliver Hill of Pavo Pavo. These eclectic additions swelled the number of people on stage to almost a dozen at various points but the stage never seemed too crowded.
Foals’ 2015 album What Went Down came out in August and earned the band many positive reviews (though not so much here). But reviews of an album don’t impact how much fun a show is and as Foals loyal fans know, the band’s shows are a real blast.
Front man Yannis Philippakis is a wild one and he inspires fans to behave similarly, crowd surfing and, as one fan did, jumping from the stage. But of course, Philippakis one-upped them all as he took a leap from the second floor of Terminal 5 onto the outstretched arms of the audience during the encore of “Two Steps, Twice”. Photos of his leap, the band and the fans are below.
Just hours after Sleater-Kinney rocked The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (the taping, not the broadcast) the trio hit the stage at Irving Plaza, the third night of their five night run in New York City. The tour was “shrinking” in that each venue the band played was smaller than the one preceding it. Drummer Janet Weiss told The New York Times, “Everything felt like, really scrappy and sort of wild, slightly out of control,” Ms. Weiss said. “It’s a smaller, more live-sounding stage, so it was loud and super raw sounding.”
Check out some clips from the show below photos of the energetic show. And make sure to read why No Cities was one of PopMatters favorite albums of 2015.
There are some people who can’t get past the name. Narc Twain. A simple play off the name of the celebrated author. But it might be a re-imagining of history for the band who go by the name. In the past of their dystopian future, could that celebrated jumping frog competition in Calaveras County have really been a ruse to catch people gambling illegally? Well, no matter the case, from my perspective, the band’s name is clever and fun. But I have to confess I posted on my blog ‘Felonious Monk’ for several years.
Narc Twain is a project from Jukebox the Ghost/Drunken Sufis singer/guitarist Tommy Siegel along with drummer/producer John Thayer, guitarist Aaron Leeder, keyboardist/backup vocalist Dave Cohen and bassist Brett Niederman. The band’s debut self-titled EP (streaming below) was released earlier this month and celebrated with a release show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Without a physical release, the merch table consisted of posters and homemade t-shirts that included downloads of the album.