Dark afro-beat tracks wrestle with New York disco for a night of Riga Music at the Raj.
Whilst the Bar is getting a little face lift we’ve been able to schedule a special program of events catered to this particular space.
Our working relationship with the Raj is one that was borne out of competition which was quickly followed by mutual respect. Our town isn’t exactly big, so it can be easy to get possessive over footfall. The boys at the Raj were no doubt a little relieved when Jakers’ burnt down. Although a fried chicken shop was hardly going to be taking that much business away from a fully-fledged Indian restaurant, there had always been a rivalry between the two establishments. When we opened up our doors 6 months later, Sanjay and his team were no doubt a little disheartened to discover that we were planning on serving food as well!
Fast-forward a few years and our two teams have never been tighter. Their lads are often round our gaff enjoying the music and we’re frequently over theirs after a late-night working the bar. We’ve grown so close that they were good enough to let us schedule a series of gigs in their dining room. Programming for this new environment was a unique challenge, which meant avoiding aggressive or intrusive performers and seeking out smaller scale acts.
The Raj does a roaring trade in delivery orders during the week, however their dining room is often a little quiet during these times, so it was great to see it pretty much packed out with all of our regulars, who were eager to tuck into some authentic Indian grub and listen to some interesting modern music.
Our first act to grace the Raj’s makeshift stage travels around the world with nothing more than a laptop and midi-keyboard; bringing dark, chilled out Afro-inflected beats wherever he goes. Circadian Rhythms is the stage name for Ode Azikiwe, a South African born producer and DJ who’s been making a name for himself in his hometown of Johannesburg. Since 2004 Ode has been attempting to join the pulsating rhythms of New York’s club scene with his hometown’s Afro-beat roots, creating a number of original works, whilst also remixing many modern classics at the same time.
He makes for an innocuous figure, dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt with a baseball cap placed neatly on his head. With the lights dimmed, an expectant hush descends upon the dining room as small spots pick out the lone performer. His head nods imperceptibly as a simple djembe beat begins to take on a more sonorous timbre, the back light of his laptop illuminating a face full of focus. Diners nod their heads in appreciation and seem unsure as to whether or not they should continue eating.
It’s an admittedly novel situation. Although many people are used to having music on in the background whilst eating, it almost seems rude to tuck-in or converse when there’s a person who’s travelled such a long way to curate the soundtrack to your meal. 10 minutes into his 2-hour set, a deep South-African voice emerges from the rhythms to thank the diners for coming out but not to stop eating on his behalf.
The mood relaxes in the room and a quiet murmur of approval circulates around the room – bright wide smile is now reflected by the blueish-white LCD screen and it stays there for the entirety of the night.
Maxi James reviewed Circadian Rhythms at a seated concert on the 5th February 2018 whilst enjoying some time off from cheffing at the Riga Music Bar.