Everyone’s dance party
Delhi 2 Dublin got folks of all ages dancing to electronica at the Big Room
The Delhi 2 Dublin performance at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room on Thursday, Nov. 21, was a convergence of seemingly distant cultural and musical elements, but one of the most striking juxtapositions was on the dance floor.
Middle-aged (and older) concert-goers jumping and jiving alongside the youngsters to what was—when you stripped away the tribal drums and fiddle—straight-up house techno and dubstep is something I’d never seen before. As Delhi 2 Dublin proved that night, solid grooves—no matter what the genre—apparently have the ability to dash preconceived notions of what constitutes music for old or young people.
Dancing was much anticipated by both the crowd and the venue. Tables on floor-level had been removed to clear enough space for the evening’s projected amount of booty-shakin’, while a sizeable crowd was gathered in front of the stage well before Delhi 2 Dublin took the stage.
Just before the show began, Big Room General Manager Bob Littell informed the audience that the evening’s performance was going to be recorded, gesturing to microphones positioned to capture crowd noise, and encouraging those in attendance to be as loud as possible. The energy, Littell said, would be repaid by the performers. And it was.
As its name suggests, the Vancouver, British Columbia, quintet (guitarist and sitar player Andrew Kim was conspicuously absent from Thursday’s Big Room performance) blends fiddle-oriented Celtic music and Bhangra, which is itself a mix of traditional Punjabi folk and Western pop music. But there were electronic undertones throughout the band’s set, with synthesizer player Tarun Nayar often augmenting the band’s big party sound with generally weird noises.
Frontman Sanjay Seran sang in a smooth R&B style, his delivery and swagger very much that of a hip-hop MC. Percussionist Ravi Binning appeared to be the world’s happiest man as he played the double-headed dhol drum strapped around his waist, the wooden stick in his right hand a blur as he smiled broadly.
Perhaps due to the absence of the band’s guitarist, electric-fiddler Sara Fitzpatrick seemed to channel the energy of a lead rock guitarist on more than occasion, flailing her hair wildly as she leaned into her wah-wah pedal and generously applied delay effects to her solo sections.
Some of the best moments came when Nayar and Seran positioned themselves behind two floor toms for beat-centric breakdowns during which Fitzpatrick was the only member not vigorously pounding a drum. And a personal highlight was a cover of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” which was given a dubstep treatment and accompanied by, of course, wildly enthusiastic tribal drumming.
My only complaint: The large amount of computer-produced sound felt somewhat cheap in places. There were sections of the set that relied very little on live performance and more on preprogrammed elements running on a laptop, and at times, the automated sounds took over the mix.
But, with the band’s clear emphasis on groove, that gripe doesn’t amount to much. Judging by how responsive the crowd was—it was, without a doubt, the most energetic gathering I’ve ever seen at the Big Room—it’s likely that most in attendance didn’t care about how exactly the music was being produced.
It all made for a pretty rad international dance party to which everyone, young and old, could get down.