SAN FRANCISCO — Canadian ‘world music’ band Delhi 2 Dublin brought a mixture of bhangra, electronica and hip-hop to The Independent Saturday, and along with it, a ton of energy and stage presence. Though the genre may confound indie rock fans, Delhi 2 Dublin easily crossed that bridge at its show with material off their latest album, 2015’s We’re All Desi.
A thunderous crash from Tarun Nayar’s tabla and Ravi Binning’s dhol started the performance. “Low ‘n Slow” kept it interesting with twists in tempo, especially when violinist Serena Eades joined the band on stage and went into a rapid musical frenzy. When lead vocalist Sanjay Seran wasn’t singing, he was dancing. All four band members seemed to genuinely enjoy this part of their jobs, with smiles and occasional synchronized dancing.
The production enhanced the performance. Sometimes, the background visuals offered lyrics, sometimes, explosions of light and color. All of this was synched perfectly to the music. “VOODOO SELEKTA,” while not a commonly known song to anyone other than the band’s fans, still led to a room-wide singalong thanks to the use of lyrics that were displayed on-screen. A 15-minute jam session followed.
One by one, the band members walked off the stage until Nayar was left alone playing bass-heavy bhangra music. When they returned, the band asked the audience to show them peace signs for the next song.
“We know it’s fucked up out there,” Seran said. “We don’t care what your political views are, it doesn’t hurt to throw your peace signs up. That shit works.”
The band switched it up with “We’re All Desi,” the album’s self-titled track. The song begins with singing, and transitions to rapping, bhangra and then to trap. The electronic dominance continued with “Stumph,” which reinvented the drop with the tabla and violin.
Throughout the night, each musician had an opportunity to have center stage to him- or herself. The most memorable solo came from Eades, who performed “Dimensions,” by Troyboi, on violin. After Eades’ moment, the band returned to “give thanks to mother nature” and the land on which they stand. This slow-down began to suck energy from the room.
After a few more songs, Binning had to leave the stage due to issues with his dhol. This forced the remaining trio to improvise for 15 minutes. In the meantime, Eades did an impressive Irish jig on her violin, citing the approaching St. Patrick’s Day.
Nayar, clearly upset, took matters into his own hands once the band was able to continue. He grabbed a floor tom from the stage and brought it to the middle of the crowd to play with a fan. The band spent the remainder of its time spreading positive messages.
“Up in Canada, we get scared for everyone down here,” Seran said. “This band knows that no matter your religion, ethnicity, race or gender that we are all human beings. He asked fans to hug their neighbors and dance with them for their next song, “California.”
DJ Dragonfly started the night with a continuous house-mix of electronic North African music. Eventually his set evolved into Western-influenced club music.