Blend it like Barmer Boys

From Pir Murshid to Chhalla, Barmer Boys took their Delhi performance to a new level

The metallic twangs of moorchang and the loaded beats of khartaal merged with earthy strains of harmonium and Mangey Khan's soaring vocals greeted those present at Lodi – The Garden Restaurant on Friday evening. The men are called Barmer Boys, a three-year-old band formed from the existing Manganiars from Rajasthan, by Amarras Records directors Ankur Malhotra and Ashutosh Sharma.

As the seasoned performers began with a mellow qalam Pir Murshid — an ode to their saint, the music rose above the repetitive tunes we hear in today's clamorous folk market and was like a whiff of fresh air as Rais Khan on moorchang, bhapang and beatboxing, Mangey Khan on vocals and harmonium, Mangu Khan on dholak, and Bhungra Khan on khartaal upped the ante with their wistful vocals, layered with the interesting alaaps.

After their ode to Pir Murshid, the band sang Thodo pio, thodo chad gayo re — a high-energy track that the band members are not allowed to sing in Barmer, or even Rajasthan. "There can be some traditional people present in the gatherings and we can't sing a fun alcohol song. But since we are in Delhi and nobody would really mind a song like that here, we wanted to entertain the audience with it," said Rais.

While Rais and Bhungra showcased their skills on an instrumental track through a jugalbandi, Mangey went on to sing Hum bhi teri basti mein — a beautiful track that was a mix of an arresting melody and traditional vocals. This was the time when the audience put down alcohol glasses and heard the band in rapt attention to greet the musicians with a hearty applause at regular intervals. This was followed by tracks such as Raichand and Chhalla — a sharp and dense change from the delicate beginning, as the band ended the concert with a furious climax of vocals and drumming.

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