(via Ra Ra Riot Official MySpace page)
I never attended a concert where the entire crowd was just dancing – flat out rockin’ their faces off – even if most of the crowd never heard of the act. When I saw Ra Ra Riot for the first time this February (at the recommendation of many of my hipster college friends), that all changed. I’ve seen the band a total of four times after last night’s show at Funk N’ Waffles (right off the SU campus), and I’ve left each of their concerts feeling like I just had the best (musical) lovemaking of my life. In a Ra Ra Riot crowd your legs constantly twitch and your body gyrates to a combination of bass and hit-hat. At the end of their set, you leave with a cool sweat and a sense of total body post-climax calmness. I know exactly what Blackstreet was talking about with eargasms now.
If I know anything about music, it’s an understatement to say “I’m pretty sure Ra Ra Riot has something.” They’re a 6-piece indie-rock group of recent SU alums. So while there may be a slight bias stemming from school pride, the band’s talent will have you smitten regardless of your alma mater.
Rebecca Zeller (violin) and Alexandra Lawn (cello) are two classically trained musicians whose indie-rock/classical hybrid riffs come to the forefront to drive many of the band’s tunes. Wes Miles (vocals / keys) has a high tenor voice that proves laymen’s Operatic theory (high male vocals are more powerful and pleasing to the ear) holds true. Milo Bonacci (guitar) and Mathieu Santos (bass) are responsible for giving the band their true rock edge and they cause constant head rocking for onlookers. John Pike (drums) may be hidden behind most of the musical commotion on stage, but he manages to provide solid background vocals and incredibly tight rhythm. The band simply wouldn’t be able to move a crowd without him.
What may be even more impressive about the whole group is that each member is just as talented as an entertainer as they are as musicians. Bodies are constantly moving on stage, band members are interacting in interesting and eye-catching ways, and every single second of their performance is packed with emotion, energy and excitement. From watching them, you can tell Ra Ra Riot just really loves to play and it’s a contagious feeling.
The band’s music has been compared (mostly on the Blogosphere) to bands like The Arcade Fire, The Strokes and OK Go (all right, that last band comparison was my initial reaction to them in February). There is some merit in those. They have an attention to detail and an almost scientific approach to rock like The Arcade Fire. Their songs are catchy, short & sweet and hard to forget just like The Strokes. And the band could probably be put on mute and still entice a crowd into a dance frenzy just like OK Go. In the end however, Ra Ra Riot is truly a unique blend of many different styles and types of bands. They’re an act you simply have to see for yourself. Just trust me, and make sure to bring your dancing shoes.
- Written by Nathan Mattise