Live CoverageMusic

Royel Otis Makes a Racket in NYC

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Crossing over 10,000 miles, Royel Otis embarked on their Pratts & Pains tour, culminating in two electrifying, sold-out shows at New York’s Racket. As the sun dipped below the horizon, eager fans trickled into the intimate Chelsea venue. By 9:15, the space was so densely packed that moving through the crowd seemed impossible, yet anticipation hung palpably in the air as Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic took to the stage.

Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.
Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.
Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.
Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.

Dressed in understated yet undeniably chic attire, the duo stood mere inches from the fans in the front row, fostering an intimate connection that transcended the physical barriers of the stage. This proximity only served to unite concertgoers in their shared enthusiasm for a night of exceptional music. People stood shoulder to shoulder, knocking against one another as they danced.

Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.
Royel Otis makes a racket in NYC with two electrifying, sold-out shows and a captivating stage presence to match.

Launching straight into their one-hour set with an energetic rendition of “Sonic Blue,” “Velvet,” and “Bull Breed,” Royel Otis immediately captivated the crowd, setting the stage for an unforgettable evening. Despite forming the band in 2019, this performance served as a reintroduction to their evolving sound and artistic vision.

As fans drew comparisons to legendary acts such as The Cure and New Order, Royel and Otis remained grounded amidst their burgeoning popularity. Between songs, they expressed heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to headline two sold-out shows in New York, encouraging the crowd to join them live again during their second leg in September.

While the focus remained on tracks from their debut studio album, the duo delighted fans by interspersing their set with beloved favorites from their early EPs like “Going Kokomo” and “Motels,” ensuring a dynamic experience for both longtime devotees and newcomers alike.

With a seamless blend of musical prowess, stage charisma, and an understated yet magnetic presence, Royel Otis effortlessly commanded the audience’s attention. Royel performed the guitar with ease behind his bright pink hair as Otis, engulfed in his tracksuit jacket, led the vocals. Despite any pre-show nerves, they navigated their performance flawlessly, their reserved demeanor only enhanced their mystery and allure.

Of course, no Royel Otis concert would be complete without renditions of their breakout hits, “Oysters in My Pocket” and “Sofa King,” which served as the cornerstone of their early success. Soon after, they intentionally shifted gears, embracing a more introspective mood with “Molly” and treating the audience to a special preview of an unreleased track titled “Till the Morning.”

While maintaining their signature sound, this new song offered emotionally charged lyrics, prompting a silence from the crowd as they swayed side to side and moved with the music. Each lyric was met with attentive quiet as concertgoers appreciated the privilege of being among the first to experience this intimate glimpse into Royel Otis’s evolving repertoire.

As the night unfolded, it became evident that this was more than just a concert; it was a joint celebration of music and camaraderie. In the intimate confines of the venue, barriers dissolved, allowing Royel Otis to forge a deep connection with their audience. Together, they swayed and sang, transforming the space into a vibrant extension of the band’s creative energy.

In the end, it felt less like a traditional concert and more like a spirited gathering among friends, where names were exchanged, and lyrics were shared—a testament to the impact of music.

As the set drew to a close, Royel Otis couldn’t say goodbye to the crowd without one final treat. Building on their overnight success, they delivered breathtaking renditions of “Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis Bextor and “Linger” by The Cranberries, showcasing Pavlovic’s unparalleled vocal talent, which somehow sounded more incredible live than recorded. Before anyone realized it, the set was over, passing by in the blink of an eye while they were all having the times of their lives.

Despite only five years as a band, Royel Otis has achieved unprecedented success on their North American tour, selling out every venue and surpassing all expectations. Their meteoric rise has seen them graduate from intimate 200-500 capacity venues to stages triple in size, proof of their unwavering appeal and growing fanbase. With each performance, they solidify their status as musical trailblazers, leaving audiences in awe and eagerly awaiting their next chapter. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up to the undeniable talent and infectious sound of Royel Otis.

Show Date: 05.01.24 // New York, NY @ Racket NYC // Royel Otis Makes a Racket in NYC
Photos & words by Alessandra Ayala

Alessandra Ayala
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Alessandra (“Alex”) Ayala is a filmmaker & photographer from Miami, FL.
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