By August Packard
Ravi Shavi, as a band, has been making Providence audiences get sweaty for a couple of years now with their frantic and often absurd live shows. The front man of the group, Rafaey Rashid, seems to channel the likes of Prince and James Brown as he twists, jives, and twitches his way around the stage in a state of ecstatic excitement. Their sound is a complex fabric of punk, early rock and roll, and pop. The band has self-released numerous EP’s, however they were recently picked up by Almost Ready Records and will be releasing their first full length album on June 2. The Album is self-titled, and features tracks that live audiences have been getting down to for years now, paired hand in hand with a slew of new songs.
On May 30th, Ravi Shavi hosted an album release party at The Met Café in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was a small show, mostly attended by friends, family, and die-hard fans, and the atmosphere, unlike many other Ravi Shavi shows, was decidedly mellow.
The first opener was a Providence band called Pyramid, an outfit of chick rockers who bring a surf infused doom rock sound to the stage. Their lead singer, Constance (Connie) Wachtmeister, approaches making music with what appears to be a very loose, go with the flow, and slightly twisted attitude which makes itself very apparent in their songs.
Second to the stage was a touring band based out of Detroit, Michigan called Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. The instrumentation included drums, keyboard/organ, bass, guitar, trombone, and Jessica Hernandez herself on vocals. Their sound was characterized by frequent and effective trombone riffs and wailing organ solos, as well as a drummer that tied them all together into an incredibly cohesive, and heavily rhythmic, outfit. Their songs demonstrated a fair amount of rock and pop sensibility, with pulsing beats that at times also evoked possible roots in Latin music as well as in reggae. Jessica Hernandez was a captivating front-woman to this incredibly talented group of musicians. There was not a single song in their set in which she was not dancing and interacting with the audience. She also had a powerful voice that was reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse.
I got the opportunity to speak with the trombone player after their set, and he said that they had been touring up and down the East Coast and that Providence was a welcome stop on their long string of shows. Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas is most definitely a band to look out for on the national level.
Ravi Shavi took the stage at around 11pm with a feeling of leisurely comfort. The Met Café is a well-known venue to them, and it was clear that they knew most of the audience by name. They began their set with an older song called “Indecision,” which demonstrates an excellent example of the classic Ravi Shavi sound, with its twangy guitar riffs and frantic tempo and rhythmic changes. The crowd sang along with Rafaey as he jumped around the stage in his classic way. They then transitioned into newer songs from the upcoming album. Throughout the set Rafaey seemed to radiate an appreciation for the audience, and the Providence music scene itself. At one point in between songs, he began introducing members of the audience to one another from the stage with an exclamation of “You gotta introduce people, you know?”
Later on in their set, the band invited Roz Raskin of “The Rice Cakes” and members of Sugar Honey Iced Tea (both are local Providence bands) up to sing back-up vocals on a slowed down and somewhat haunting rendition of the Ravi Shavi song “Accidental.” The result was a shockingly beautiful ballad about a mental breakdown, complete with angelic vocal harmonies and heavy use of the cymbals by the drummer. This had the effect of leaving the audience with goosebumps as the band propelled its way into their final two songs, which were no-doubt-about-it rockers. By this point almost everyone in the relatively small crowd was on their feet and dancing. When the band was done the crowd welcomed them down off the stage and the night ended with a sense of contentment and satisfaction.
Look for Ravi Shavi’s first full length LP, titled “Ravi Shavi,” on June 2nd.
Links to Band pages: