You Better Dance Or Else It's Your Loss: Bamboo Shoots Wields Rhythmic Discipline

I have a secret. I’ve been listening to Bamboo Shoots 2006 Blue EP non-stop since I saw their show at Alley Katz in Richmond, Virginia on March 15. This disc has been spinning in my car stereo system for about 6 weeks now. Its groove leeches on you and your internal organs. This disc is a party, whether you’re ready to move or not. No joke. I have been failing miserably at resisting the temptation to put this disc on repeat.

Based out of the New York metropolitan area, linking the Jersey suburbs, New York, and Brooklyn, the five-piece band Bamboo Shoots has been making groove-oriented indie eletro pop since their first show at the Pianos in New York City in 2004. The band stems from a close, long-term collaboration project between two friends Avir Mitra and Karl Sukhia that started in their pre-college years in South Jersey. Notably, in 2007, Bamboo Shoots won the MTVu Best Music on Campus contest after qualifying to be in the final round of 50 and then surpassing all other contestants by the grassroots support of votes from family and friends around the world. Packaged along with the prize were instant media exposure – a live performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brian – and a major record deal with Epic.

Before their load-in, Bamboo Shoots met me for an interview at a Thai restaurant nearby the club in downtown Richmond. They thoughtfully answered my questions about their music endeavors and experiences. They talked about the centrality of rhythm in their music, their South Asian musical influences, experiences of growing up within the South Asian community in New Jersey and negotiating their parents' expectations for professional career like medicine, engineering, or finance. Interestingly, Karl used the analogy of “coming out” to describe the process of divulging to his parents his passion and pursuit for music making. Our conversation evolved into an informal chat about music gear (geeky!) and their DIY plans for touring India [documented on the band blog]. At the end the interview, Shiv turned the table around and asked me about my research findings.

More photos from this performance

It was a particularly rainy and foggy night in Richmond, unfortunately. Despite the low turnout, Bamboo Shoots played a high-energy, crowd-pleasing set consisting of songs from their 2006 EP and the more recent “Hey Girl” and others from Music for Cotillions, a mixtape web release in spite of their contract with Epic. Ankur’s percussion was low in the mix - a disappointment, personally. Nevertheless, I had a blast moving to the syncopated rhythmic texture and tension between guitar and keys, drum set and bongos (and drum machine!). Who says that indie rock lacks rhythmic depth?

The best way to enjoy their music is to throw all objects aside and feel the music through moving the body. Bamboo Shoots will perform on June 14 at Public Assembly in Brooklyn. The performance is a part of Northside Festival in Brooklyn that features NYC bands. At my next Bamboo Shoots’ show, I will ditch my duty to capture media. I will dance freely following their disciplined rhythm in abandonment. Who’s going to watch my field recording devices? Also, there better be some bopping and swinging en masse. Who’s in?

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