Hannah LemkeStill Dreaming: Raveena Hannah Lemke October 5, 2019 Concert Reviews, Featured, Reviews More than a musician, Indian-American R&B artist Raveena is an all-encompassing phenomenon that captivated the audience with meditative moments and silky sounds during her sold-out Boston debut. 9/18/19 – ONCE Ballroom The stage was set: a circular 70s pastel green shag rug, assortments of mushroom statues splattered with tie-dye color patterns and fake flowers engulfed the microphone stand. A floral banner with Raveena’s name hung behind the waiting instruments. It was an overwhelming scene, seemingly overdone. The crowd shuffled in, buzzing with excitement after waiting in line that wrapped around the block. But what seemed like over-the-top and elaborate staging suddenly made sense once Raveena came into view—a remedy to the chaos. Donning a pink-puffed crop top and tie-dye mermaid skirt, she kicked off her brown sandals as she comfortably and confidently took her place on stage. Matching the aesthetic of the decorations, she started to sweep people away with her delicate and whimsical style, diving into crowd favorite, “Stronger.” Resonating synths echoed her tender voice, creating a dreamlike soundscape to carry the audience away. For those who may not know, Raveena is an Indian-American singer/songwriter based in Queens, New York. Or, as one teen who drove more than an hour to make the show described, “a beautiful goddess of softcore melody.” Her sound is reminiscent of soulful R&B, but experiments with vocal and emotional range to tie in patterns of modern pop. Her current seven-stop tour is promoting her recent self-released debut album, Lucid, which showcases the pattern of healing within Raveena’s culture and identity as the daughter of South Asian immigrants. So far, the album has received compliments from Billboard, NPR, Nylon, and Vice, but even more impressive is Raveena’s ease in making conversations about heavy topics inspiringly whimsical, tying in this carefree tone to every aspect of her show. The music, performance, aesthetics, and staging just work together to create a feeling of peace and release. “This song is about growing out of traumatic experiences—if you’ve ever gone through something similar to these lyrics, you are safe here” said Raveena as she reassured the audience with an understanding smile and began playing “Salt Water.” “If Only” from Lucid proved to be a big hit, which is no surprise since it’s Raveena’s highest streaming song, with lyrics that express empowerment. Everyone got their phones out to light up the room, singing each lyric back to the band: Some kind of angel / Took me out of the jungle / From your blue nights / Into sunlight / I sleep better at night / Without you around. The musicians seemed so elated that they could only mimic the smiles of the fans. Raveena by Hannah Lemke Gliding around on her green shag rug, Raveena danced through her setlist as if she were floating on air—the only times she stopped were to offer hugs to the front row and to meditate. Smiling, she looked out into the audience and announced the meditation, “Let’s have a moment of silence. Breathe in all my love, I’m here… even for the back of the room… breathe out all your tension and negativity… feel the love.” The room breathed in cohesion and solidarity as Raveena slipped into her sandals for the next song. Breaking the crisp silence, she whispered sweet, breathy melodies into the microphone, mimicking the meditation and looping her voice until her signature honeyed lightness (similar to that of Corinne Bailey Rae) filled the entire venue with a chilling comfort as she started “Petal.” Lightening the mood, Raveena bounced into the next song from Lucid—“Love Child,” having fun with the audience and the bluesy groove of the bass guitar as she split her fans into two, seeing who could echo back the lyrics to her the loudest. She giggled at the positive energy and introduced her band before singing other audience favorites: “Nectar,” “Temptation,” “Sweet Time,” and “No Better,” explaining their meanings and muses along the way. Too quickly, it came to be the last song in her set (and what she announced to be her most favorite) “Still Dreaming,” a moody song about love, sex, and desire. Following the direction of the cohesive, muffled snare and bass pattern on the drums, Raveena let her voice rise and fall before closing her eyes for the first time to disconnect from the audience—but only to connect more to the music and get lost in the lyrics; she sang in a state of pure bliss and elegance that radiated a gentle light around the room. Soft-spoken yet deliberate, Raveena embraces everything that it means to be accepting—delivering a safe space for listeners to not only feel, but to feel alive with a radiating aesthetic that her aura so perfectly crafts. Every lyric, every laugh, every wave of her hand, every sway of her hips on top of barefoot feet and green shag rug left listeners speechless. 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