Last night, I was at Brooklyn Bowl, the JOVM unofficial home office to catch Brooklyn Raga Massive, Rupa and the April Fishes and Red Baraat for a show that turned out to be both a raucous celebration of Indian music and culture and a celebration of the Celebration of Colors, an annual (and ancient) spring rite. And while the night was fun, there was also room for needed political messages – in this case through the work of Rupa and the April Fishes.
Deriving their name from the French April Fools tradition of sticking paper fishes on the backs of the unsuspecting, the San Francisco-based band originally began as a duo between frontperson and guitarist Rupa and cellist Ed Baskerville. Ripa and Baskerville began playing on the streets, in streetcars, art galleries and everywhere else, reflecting a generally nomadic spirit. Eventually the band expanded to a quintet and began developing a reputation across the Bay Area for a globe-spanning, genre defying sound that incorporates elements of Latin groove (Colombian cumbia, in particular), indian raga and Romani soul – with a punk rock spirit. Adding to the global spanning spirit of their sound, Rupa frequently sings lyrics in several different languages in the attempt to forge a deeper connection that goes beyond the boundaries of race and nationality.
During Rupa and the April Fishes’ set, they managed to do a rather interesting cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” which Rupa said they would continue to perform until people of color around the world were no long victims of police violence and inequality. Check out the footage, I shot with my iPhone 5 above.