Concert review: Ra Ra Riot [Mod Club; August 30, 2010]

Toronto – <begin hating> I will never again bemoan the presence of other Taiwanese people (I am Taiwanese if that’s not already clear) at concerts… for the first and only time I shall expound in order to open the review. We (Taiwanese people) apparently do not have any sense of personal space – easily forgivable when you lived with 24 million copies of your short skinny self on one side of a rock (Taiwan) no bigger than Lake Michigan – but we are here, in TO. Please, people: do NOT collect and arrange your friends in a formation, leaving me with no space to even turn around while your buttocks have clear lines of sight to Mod Club’s balconies. It’s a ridiculous and empty ploy – I won’t move, especially not when I can hear soft whispers questioning which “subspecies” of yellow person I am. Please grow some facial hair and shove me around next time. <end hating>

But what picture does the above passage paint for the “impromptu” Ra Ra Riot show this night?

a) We waited for a bit – set time was said to be 830pm but the first note was played at 9pm, giving my fellows enough time to annoy me.

b) The club filled up slowly, giving lines of sight from butts to AC. But in the end it was a good turn out – definitely at capacity by the second song.

c) All kinds of people came out on this broiling night. When a friend who has been their fan since before she could dance mentioned about Molson Amphitheater, my mind did a double-take. I had no idea Ra Ra Riot was that popular.

Since this particular concert was not well-publicized and yet it filled the theater, you might reason that it consisted entirely of offerings from their new album The Orchard. After all, promotion is the name of the game here. Not so. Although I have yet to sample the new CD, they opened with St. Peter’s Day Festival, and connected through songs like Ghost Under Rocks, Can You Tell, and Dying Is Fine from their first album The Rhumb Line.

Interspersed between those immediately recognizable selections from the old are, I presume, the new songs. I have not seen them since SXSW 2009, but they have definitely grown up. The energy all 6 band members radiated was the most memorable part of their, or perhaps any, show at Austin that year. This time their stage presence, while lacking somewhat the exuberance of yesteryear, is far more polished. The performance still carried with it the feeling of six friends rocking-out in the basement (perhaps they were also tired from the bigger showcase yesterday?), but there was certainly less garage band antics and more purposeful exchanges of looks, smiles, and headbutts. Wes Miles displayed more showmanship than at the Parish – hugging band-mates, cheering them on, and generally interacting playfully to the audience.

I do miss their more expressive and meandering songs like Oh La, but I’m sure that’s merely the nature of this particular show. Their pace is always even with the recordings, and all of the instrument voices sound crisp and clear. I thought Miles’ voice has become brighter since 2009. There are comments from the floor that most people were staring at either the cello or the violin… but that’s a positive note illustrating how their music is conducive to mellow and sanguine thoughts. (Btw, is it me or they have a new drummer?) At the end of each piece, the entire theater would dim to denote the transition – which in a sense addressed my comment last time that theirs songs can feel like one giant stream.

To summarize: Ra Ra Riot is still a riot to watch. And the next time they show up in Toronto (I heard December?) we’ll still be there.

Ra Ra Riot – Boy (RAC Mix) by Remix Artist Collective

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Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything

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