Madame Gandhi performs at BottleRock Napa Valley at the Napa Valley Expo on May 27, 2022
Photos by Sean Liming
Boston vocalist, drummer and producer Madame Gandhi provided one of the early surprises of the day, playing a set that was dynamic, compelling and captivating. It started slowly but quickly picked up steam.
“We don’t get time to soundcheck at these big festivals, so will you do one with me?” asked Madame Gandhi, whose name is Kiran Gandhi. She then proceeded to play her array of percussive instruments on stage, to the approval of the crowd. It was tough to pin down Gandhi as an artist: She rapped, sang, banged out percussion and hopped behind the drums.
“When I listen to music, I find myself loving the beats, and the production, and the music,” Gandhi said. “But lyrically, there’s just so much casual misogyny.”
That’s when she launched into her uplifting “turn-up” jam “Top Knot Turn Up,” bringing the crowd to life instantly.
“I don’t want to have to turn to the sound of my own oppression [at the gym],” she said as an explanation for writing the song.
Gandhi’s band was just as impressive, with horns, a DJ, drummer and another percussionist. The band fused hip-hop, pop and reggae with an uplifting and empowering message.