CKUT Music Department Volunteer Chiara Strollo caught the HAWA B and RFlex at Tavern Tour last week.

As the Taverne Tour unfolded, Casa del Popolo opened its doors to showcase the talents of emerging artists R.Flex and Hawa B. The venue’s laid-back ambiance immediately hinted at the type of intimate and unique experience awaiting the audience. Upon entering the cozy space with a crowd of around 30 people, my enthusiasm grew. Being a fan of HAWA B’s distinctive sound and curious about R.Flex’s stage presence, I was eager to listen.

I do have to start by commending Toronto’s R. Flex. They have an electro-R&B-house sound that some people might say only works in an upbeat club and/or festival setting. I disagree. With the right energy and determination, R.Flex showed us they did not mind the smaller space, they were there to have a good time. With infectious energy and unwavering determination, R.Flex seamlessly adapted to the smaller space, engaging the audience with dance and an unreserved performance style. Their constant affirmations of our collective vibrancy, coupled with a mesmerizing falsetto, elevated the already outstanding songs, particularly my personal favorite, Too Late.

Next on stage was Hawa B, accompanied by her frequent collaborator Félix Petit. Her ethereal blend of jazz, soul, alternative R&B, and rock set the stage for an unpredictable journey. Beginning with tracks from her EP Sad in a Good Way, Hawa B gradually transitioned into a more alternative rock sound. Petit’s saxophone added a rich layer to her fantastic vocals. Hawa B brought a darker, alluring energy, incorporating elements like bringing a chair into the crowd to sing with us and climbing on the bar to deliver her final song. The shift was a bit of a surprise but coupled with Hawa’s undeniable connection to her music, held our attention throughout.

I departed Casa del Popolo with a touch of confusion, yet undeniably inspired. While I found myself uncertain about grasping every nuance of the performance, the overall experience of witnessing emerging artists in action is something I consistently appreciate. I highly recommend you check both of these artists out!