For leader Sunny Jain, every Red Baraat performance is a celebration. Hammering buoyant beats on the dhol – a double-headed Indian drum – Jain expects his vigorous rhythms to infect not just his bandmates but his audiences, and he’s not afraid to shout encouragement at a crowd to get them on their feet. But the band’s annual Festival of Colors is even more of a party, an evening of multi-hued festivities meant to shine a spotlight on South Asian artists working in a variety of styles and mediums. Founded in 2012 in New York City, the fest marks its second iteration in Philly on Thursday night at Underground Arts.
The headliners, of course, are Red Baraat themselves – after all, no one would dare follow this boisterous blend of brass band, bhangra, jazz, funk, and Bollywood sounds. The eight-piece band is a hurricane of percussion and horns (including native Philly trombonist Ernest Stuart). This year the event will also feature Indian-American singer Falu, who combines Indian classical and folk music with a contemporary approach; and California hip-hop MC Mandeep Sethi. Photos from last year’s Webster Hall Festival of Colors depict a dancing, sweating crowd and winged dancers on stilts, so expect the evening to live up to the vibrant promise of its name. Tickets and info on the show can be found here.