Rupa and the April Fishes sent out an invisible wave of energy, which zipped through the room and lit the crowd like a fire as they came onstage at The Mint Friday night. The supportive crowd at the legendary venue was a diverse mix of pretty ladies, hipsters, hippies, and parents who packed the sultry, dark quarters wall to wall. The only thing these viewers had in common was their affinity for the music, yet the band's mesmerizing energy vibrated to create a sense of a community amidst the gathering.
The music of Rupa and the April Fishes defies easy categorization. The band–anchored by an eclectic mix of trumpet, accordion, drums and upright bass–played with a worldly gusto, which, combined with the dim, red ambiance, evoked the feeling of a private show in a gypsy cave.
The ringleader, Rupa–an exotic, natural, Indian beauty who just happens to be an MD in San Francisco–sang songs in French, Spanish, English, Romani and Hindi. Her lyrics spoke of love and philosophy, though she did not eschew practical advice. “This is the problem,” Rupa declared in one of her introductions. “Sometimes people tell you they love you, but what they really want is to tell you they want to get in your pants.”
The lyrics sung in foreign languages did not have to be literally understood: a kind of translation happened organically through the rhythms and the body language. The rich voice of Rupa, which mutated into a sexy whisper at the end of some of her songs, really set the mood in the venue and listeners left with a hunger for more of her inspirational music.
“[The music makes me] feel like dancing, like traveling and being proactive,” said fan Amanda Vogelbaum. Though she might not have understood the literal meaning of the foreign lyrics, she fundamentally related to the music] through the rhythms. “Your feet,” she beamed, “move with the music instead of trying to pick it apart.”