|Ra Ra Rocks Orlando But Causes No Riot|
|Written by DJ Space|
|Thursday, 10 March 2011 00:00|
Syracuse (NY) band Ra Ra Riot delivered plenty of energy and put the rock back into indie rock as it wowed a packed and receptive audience at Orlando's The Social on Tuesday evening.
Bespectacled bassist Mathieu Santos declared the band's intent from the very first track, using the full extent of the tiny, cramped stage during a lively rendition of "Massachusetts" while sharing vocals with cellist Alexandra Lawn.
With his soulful voice and powerful vocal range, frontman and physics graduate Wes Miles assumed vocals for the remainder of the hour-long set, with the exception of a brief but welcome interval when enchantress Lawn, moodily and sensually crooning the sombre, emotional, love-letter lyrics to “You and I Know,” held the center of the stage and most of the rapt audience attention.
Ra Ra Riot has played in Orlando on two previous occasions, but the mop-topped Miles soon established that for many it was their first Ra Ra concert and, exuding nerdy charm and cool flair, he strained to leave a lasting impression, which included the use of high-fives and slapping skin at the finale. There was an inherent urgency to the band, as the instrument interplay of drums, bass, guitar, violin, and cello wrapped around Miles' soulful vocals, covering the subjects of love, grief, pain, and loss. (The band’s original drummer, John Pike drowned in Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 2007, shortly after a show in Rhode Island.) Ra Ra's unique combination of urgency, intensity, and emotional depth - which it applies to each chord, beat, and lyric - is what makes it such an exciting band to listen to.
With its unique brand of indie-rock and chamber-pop, backed by dense layers of strings, this orchestral band - which has by all accounts become a university crowd sensation - and its upbeat, catchy, and yet emotive tunes were soon bouncing off the walls. Dressed like hip intellectuals, sporting glasses, skinny jeans, and T-shirts with obscure band logos - Santos wore a shirt brandishing the logo of 80's supergroup, The Power Station - the guys were flanked either side by the band's glamorous string section, comprising of violinist Rebecca Zeller and Lawn, whose strings added drama and tension to each and every track. Drummer Gabriel Duquette drove the proceedings along, as the bass of Santos and the guitar of Milo Bonacci added rhythm and structure and the band ripped through its high energy show.
Touring in support of its sophomore LP, The Orchard, released last year, only six of the thirteen planned tracks were drawn from that album, with the rest taken from the comfortably familiar debut album, The Rhumb Line. Highlights included the head-bopping single "Can You Tell" and the exuberant "Boy," as well as The Orchard's lively retro-rocker "Too Dramatic," which played out the official set. Heads bobbed as fans closed their eyes and sang along to their favorite tracks while listening to the orchestral melodies.
Ra Ra chose a couple of old familiar picks for the encore, the chillingly epic and beautifully eerie ballad "Ghost Under Rocks" and the lively singalong "Dying Is Fine," both of which first appeared on the band's original, self-titled 2007 EP, as well as its 2008 debut album.
Ra Ra Riot is entertaining to watch and a recommended live act not to be missed. This talented sextet plays so well together that its members will rock the house, but they are unlikely to cause a riot.
Support was provided by Montreal's The Luyas, complete with its own brand of quirky orchestral-pop. Fronted by chirpy and vocally squawky Jessie Stein, the band missed the presence of violinist Owen Pallet and Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld, who both contributed to its sophomore album, Too Beautiful to Work, which is due for release on March 11.
Ra Ra Riot Setlist:
|Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 13:23|