XLNC/Bindu | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The bhangra music that originated in the Punjab region of northern India, performed during harvest celebrations, combined ecstatic singing and rapid percussive flurries on the dholak, a two-headed drum vaguely related to the tabla. The migration of Indians to England over the past 30 years has transformed the traditional style, cross-pollinating it with the music of the Brits and of immigrants from the Caribbean. The mutating bhangra flourished in Indian communities during the 70s and early 80s, eventually incorporating pop-music technology and finding a warm reception in British clubs. Like rai music, the popular Algerian genre that blends soaring Middle Eastern vocals with percolating rhythms and synthesizer melodies, contemporary bhangra blends traditional Indian vocals and instrumental flourishes--from sitar, dholak, tabla--with a hodgepodge of modern dance music, including hip hop, house, raggamuffin, and disco. An excellent sampler called What Is Bhangra? (I.R.S.) and several releases on Multitone (apparently the leading bhangra label in England, it has a new office in Minneapolis) offer a stunning introduction to this broad, vibrant music, including cuts by the group XLNC and the singer Bindu. You may have seen some bhangra videos on Channel 26, but this will be the first time the style has been performed live in Chicago. Sunday, 7 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 559-1212 or 791-7437.

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