Everything was clicking at El Club on Sunday night.
Detroit’s acclaimed Mexicantown venue offered free parking in the grass lot next door, cone-shaped paper cups for personal water dispensing and taco-truck tacos in the backyard (where one could, theoretically, smoke a spliff under sunset skies, stuff one’s face with carnitas and chug grapefruit Jarritos all at the same time). And then they had Raveena, and Raveena made none of it matter: the tacos, the theoretical spliffs, the cone cups, the sunny skies.
I could have been eating worms and nails in a thunderstorm, and it still would have been a blast.
Raveena opened with “Mystery,” a lofi, poppy-bop from their new concept album, Asha’s Awakening (2022) that the drummer described as “pop meets soul with a twist of Indian influence.” From the moment the bass-kit beat came in, the vibe was set. Audience heads started bobbing and rolling, feet stomping and shifting as Raveena’s high-arcing vocals curled into vibrato and back again. This continued for a few songs, with the guitarist double-timing on the keys, the bassist holding down the glue and the drummer keeping filthy clockwork behind it all.
After a few songs, Raveena decided to slow it down with “Mama.” It was, after all, Mother’s Day, and before the song, she did an impromptu FaceTime with her mom, saying, “Let’s see if she picks up.” When she did pick up (as mothers tend to do), Raveena had the whole crowd wish her a happy Mother’s Day. “I wanted to get all the tears out of the way early in the set,” Raveena told the crowd.
And then right back to the bops, picking up the energy with older sing-alongs like “Headaches” and “If Only,” as well as fun, experimental songs. During “If Only,” a large man held up his phone to record as he belted every lyric, pumping his fist throughout. The energy was soaring.
Raveena decided to channel the crowd’s energy with her guided meditation song from Asha’s Awakening, “Let Your Breath Become a Flower.” She had everyone close their eyes, put their hands by their sides and relax their shoulders. “Let’s see how quiet we can be,” she suggested, and for a minute, no one said a word. Then the band began to play, shrouding the crowd in a sonic ethereal glow as Raveena spoke softly of flowers and stars, energy and breath. I can’t say how long this went on — maybe a few minutes, maybe more.
It was not something you hear from touring musicians all that often, and not something I can say I expected to experience. But if you’re opposed to new (and slightly magical) experiences, what are you doing at a concert in the first place?
After the show, I sat down for a smoke with the drummer, Tyler, in the backyard of the venue. He talked about how he met the bassist while playing gigs back in college, how he moved to New York without much aim and how he connected with Raveena and the guitarist back in 2014 — all leading to how they slowly became the touring group they are today.
It was comforting to hear his story. With the end of every winter semester at the University comes a new wave of anxiety for the future. Passing all the grads in their gowns, it’s hard not to ask yourself where you will be, and what you will do when your life starts for real. And it’s even harder when you realize you might not have the answers. Listening to Tyler, you get the sense that things might just turn out alright: Who knows, maybe you’ll see some distant college friends down the road and start a groovy pop band.
And if you’re still stressed, then give “Let Your Breath Become a Flower” a listen. I promise you’ll feel a whole lot better.
Daily Arts Writer Joshua Medintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.