The Stage Room enters a state of lucid dreaming and healing with the help of a gentle Raveena
The Stage Room is dark and a little moist, a byproduct of shoving over 300 students in a small room. With a line of students out the door hoping to snag a spot inside, I’m glad I bought my tickets before. There were enough fans of the Indian-American singer to move the venue from The Loft to the more spacious Stage Room in order to accommodate all the students.
Truthfully, I only found out about Raveena a few months prior — and I regret all the time that I didn’t know her. Finding someone with a similar heritage in a genre that I love is a special feeling. You see South Asian representation in the form of Zayn Malik’s journey from pop-stardom, the indie-rock sensibilities of Young the Giant, and M.I.A’s Brit-pop bangers, but I’ve never experienced it so personally like this. Raveena is carving a space for people that look like me, beginning a new wave of South Asian solidarity that can be hard to find so easily.
There’s polite applause as two white flowers with fabric petals are brought onto the stage. Little mushroom stalks — known as Raveena’s signature — dot the stage as well; it’s like we were transported to a whimsical grove. It’s important to note that Raveena makes all these herself, demonstrating dedication to her aesthetic and craft while adding another element of genuineness. The flower centers flicker from a warm, pink glow to a fluorescent blue as Raveena comes on like a woodland nymph.
“Holy as the sunrise,” are Raveena’s first words from “Stronger,” a track off her debut album “Lucid.” It’s as easy and smooth live as it is recorded, which is a difficult feat. The song itself is a celebration of survival from an abuser, and as Raveena dips into her lower register, “I know you love to see me broken / Live to see me confused, on my knees / Don’t talk too soon, I ain’t dead yet,” the flower lights become brighter and lighter, and it feels entirely holy in that room.
Spiritual as it is emotional, Raveena fully envelopes herself into the cross-section of the two, and the audience adores it.
“If Only” is arguably her most popular song and it garners the loudest cheers from the crowd as soon as the drum beats hit. It’s about healing from an abusive relationship, and this isn’t an uncommon theme for Raveena. As a sexual assault and domestic violence survivor, her experiences often seep into her music. Despite the heaviness of her lyrics, her vocals are light and airy, silky enough to slip through your fingers.
Raveena is well-versed in laying down her raw vulnerabilities and coating them with sweet, sweet honey.
Many of Raveena’s songs have to do with healing, becoming yourself, loving, and letting starlight into you. But, one of her last songs takes a slightly different route. Raveena excitedly cheers, “This song is about how absolutely beautiful women are!”
In “Temptation,” Raveena opens up about her bisexuality, something that isn’t talked about in South Asian culture in the slightest. She starts with an angelic, melodic sigh before she cooed, “Miss Temptation, I don’t think you know / You keep me waitin’, know you like to take it slow.” She treats the story of attraction with cheekiness and normalcy, coupling the song with fluid dancing. While her moves could be read as sensual, it’s utterly dreamy if anything else. Dressed like a clementine, Raveena’s orange bell sleeves shift and wave throughout the performance. There’s a sense of grace and composure to her moves, right down to her fingertips. As the song fades away with blissful chimes, she finishes up with a few twirls and lively applause.
As a person and artist, Raveena exudes such a soft sweetness, it’s unsurprising to me when she asked the crowd to take a breath and meditate to clear out any negative energies. She does this at every tour stop, and with her performance at The Stage Room acting as the last stop for her Lucid Tour, we were no exception.
Her words, soft and gentle, curled around the room, “Breathe in clear white light. Breathe out and feel.”
An audible hush came over the room, and it did feel magical. At that moment, Raveena reminded us all to do what we need the most: Take a moment. Breathe. Soften your edges. Love. Heal.
Date: Oct. 2nd
Venue: The Stage Room
Image courtesy of Harsimran Singh.