RAW Collective

27 October, Common Room
By Rosheen FitzGerald

It’s the kind of night that feels like the start of summer. The garden bar is packed and a hum of excited chatter is released into the ether. DJ Pleez, drops a mellow beat on the decks, accompaniment to the laid back stylings of rapper, Simloco. The hardcore muso crew (you know who you are) nod and sway appreciatively.

Raw Collective – all twelve of them – take to the stage and we’re off, like a cork out of a bottle. The dancefloor’s a jam, the crowd pied-pipered in by the big brass accents and heart thumping bass. It’s a huge sound, diverse and multi-layered. Keys and strings. Horns and samples. Drums and song. It’s the kind of music that shakes you down, rattles the thoughts out of your head and the aches from your bones. It’s an immersive, cathartic experience – an exercise in mindfulness – because you can’t be present to this collaborative co-creation and not be just here, right now.

There’s a sweaty, freneticism emanating from the stage and crackling about the room infecting us with a looseness that has me grinning like an idiot. I’m not the only one. An immense feeling of connection permeates the room, as we’re bound together by the music, a single pulsating organism exuding pure joy.

It’s been a big, big, couple of weeks for the arts in Hawke’s Bay. There have been challenging works and thoughtful works and silly works and works of extreme, heartbreaking beauty. There comes a point when one becomes so saturated in culture that it all bleeds into one. A feeling of fullness to bursting. This band, playing this music, in this place, is the perfect antidote to all of that. As Alice Walker famously wrote, “Hard times require furious dancing.”

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