The speakeasy at Zilker, Raye takes us through a world of jazz and love

The speakeasy at Zilker, Raye takes us through a world of jazz and love

October 18, 2023 in Concert Reviews

by DJ Kitty

I wasn’t expecting the 1940s, but suddenly I found myself in a swing band atmosphere with penguin suited trumpeters and jazz vocals crooning at me as I stood on the burnt grass of Zilker park.

Raye is an artist whose genre-defying voice lies somewhere between Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse, and her performance did nothing but stand out to me. Many may know Raye from her trendy songs Escapism or Prada, but who knew I would be seeing one of the modern Etta James’ that Friday afternoon?

Coming into the show I had expected more house-inspired beats and a bit more of a dance party, but I was pleasantly surprised by the intimate performance she gave as the lights rose on a swing-band style set up with a full brass band ready to blow their golden horns.

The first half of the set focused on her soulful jazzy pieces with “The Thrill is Gone” calling out to the crowd about her rapper ex, spinning a word of advice to the audience to do anything but that.  

Her pink silk dress shimmered as she waltzed across the stage, seducing the audience as she would slinkily lie on the stage like a burlesque dancer, just showing her air forces beneath her gown.

Then as soon as she got us snapping, she poured her heart out to us, asking the crowd if we had ever dealt with tough subjects like addiction and shared her stories with us like a close friend at a coffee shop, asking us to raise our hands with a smile if we knew our good friend red wine. 

Tears and hands were shared among audience members under her spell as she recounted an intense sexually abusive experience with her stunning performance of “Ice Cream Man” 

Both intimate and ridiculously public, Raye captured the wandering ACL audience with her high notes and low stories, leaving us feeling more like a family than like people who wanted to have a little fun.

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