The Data Waves anticipate Saturday live performance

By Carolina Garibay

In recent weeks, we’ve seen the re-opening of businesses, including restaurants, bars and department stores. We are finally seeing cities return to the bustling, lively places we’re used to seeing, and many have forgotten how much they missed simply going into an everyday store or grabbing dinner at their go-to places.

But of all the experiences COVID-19 took from us, some might say that none have had as big of an impact as the lack of live performances has. Something about live entertainment is unbeatable, and no one knows that better than artists and musicians.

Shravan Raghuram is a multi-instrumentalist and drummer for The Data Waves, a local band in Champaign. He said that not only did COVID-19 affect their performances, but it affected the band internally as well.

“COVID changed the creative process for our group in a big way because we were more or less forced to collaborate in a remote capacity other than jam sessions,” Raghuram said. “A lot of our early material was structured and written through collective improvisation. However, working remotely inspires us to be more meticulous and prioritize the energy of the songs, which opened us to new sounds, styles, and creative possibilities for the group.”

But this Saturday, June 5, The Data Waves will be returning to the live stage and performing at NOLA’s Rock Bar in Downtown Urbana, just a few miles from the University of Illinois, where the band formed in 2016 under the name The Apothecaries.

Now, the only original member in the band is Sammy Gessesse, the guitarist and chief songwriter. Other members include bassist Aditya Kashyap and Kevin King on saxophone.

Raghuram was the last to join The Data Waves in the fall of 2018 in classic band-joining fashion. He was drumming for other groups on campus at the time and was asked by the band to join the lineup.

The band members all come from different musical backgrounds, Raghuram said.

“I got my start creatively in high school playing rock groups in the Chicago suburbs,” he said. Kashyap has a similar background, and King was a part of the Chicago jazz scene before studying jazz performance at U of I. Gessesse comes from a family of musicians and has a more reggae and funk background.

These different backgrounds show through The Data Waves’ music, which doesn’t exactly belong to any one genre in particular.

“Our sound, to me, is the intersection of funk, soul, blues, pop, jazz fusion, psychedelia and rock and roll,” Raghuram said. “I’ve always found it hard to describe due to our range of influences, but if a listener is into the idea of face-melting funk with a cosmic soul twist, I think they would dig our sound.”

Raghuram also said that the band mostly draws inspiration from ’70s funk and soul artists, including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield. But they do look to a few more contemporary artists as well.

Those looking to hear these influences in the band’s music can head over to NOLA’s Rock Bar on Saturday for The Data Waves’ live performance. Like the band’s music, their setlist for the evening covers a wide range of songs, including newer original songs, older songs and covers.

Raghuram, understandably, said he’s excited to perform live and that he’s especially looking forward to the energy live audiences often have during performances.

“After COVID hit, it was clear that people everywhere are looking to get back together and share an experience with the people around them, and playing this music to bring people back together after such a tough time is the most gratifying and beautiful aspect of our live shows to me,” Raghuram said.

The Data Waves’ are playing at NOLA’s Rock Bar Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. The show is completely free, and you can find more information online or on the event’s Facebook page.

You can listen to The Data Waves on all streaming platforms and purchase their music through Bandcamp.