Last Night: Ra Ra Riot, Maps & Atlases and Princeton at the Granada Theater

Ra Ra Riot, Maps & Atlases, Princeton 
Granada Theater
September 23, 2009

Better than: Staying at home and pretending the Rangers playoff hopes are in fact still alive.

Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot

Ra Ra Riot

Showing up on time for things is not something that Dallas crowds are especially known for. (A good example of this: Look over at any Dallas Stars game and their lower bowl--which is rarely ever filled until well into the second period.) Still, it would have behooved Ra Ra Riot fans to show up to the Granada Theater well before the band's scheduled set time Wednesday night.

For starters, before the venues doors even opened, fans had opportunities to chat with band members, pose for pictures, and seek autographs as the group were the latest to participate in the Twitter-announced meet-and-greets that the theater lovingly calls tweet-ups. Early birds would have been further rewarded as members of Ra Ra Riot surprisingly joined openers Princeton at times during their set.

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When the boys opted to slow things down a bit for "Sadie and Andy" they were joined by RRR cellist Alexandra Lawn, whose coy vocal talents are featured far too infrequently in her own band. The Princeton crew was also joined later by RRR bassist Matt Santos on the band's "Show Some Love, When Your Man Gets Home" song.

But even those who did wait until the headliners took the stage to finally show up were left with nothing to complain about: They still witnessed a group of enthusiastic young musicians joyfully redefining the chamber pop genre. As Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller sawed away on their strings like seasoned lumberjacks, the rest of the band (as well as the crowd) bounced around jubilantly. And, from the way Lawn would gracefully dip her cello as if it were her ballroom dance partner, it was obvious the ladies knew how integral their lush embellishments were to the band's execution.

Midway through the headlining set, singer Wes Miles announced the band was about to "...slow it down for a New York minute" before quickly correcting himself "...I mean for a Texas minute" and then immediately launched into "Winter '05." Aside from showcasing the strings parts more blatantly than previous songs in the set, the execution was markedly more heartfelt. This isn't to say that the band was going through the motions but, prior to this point in the set, there was no hiding their seemingly endless touring schedule.

From there. things only got better with crowd favorite "Can You Tell," followed by "Dramatic," a stirring rendition of "Ghost Under Rocks," and the uproarious "Too Too Too Fast" before the evening came to a head with the band's most known tune, "Dying is Fine".

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I'll admit that I'm not particularly fond of math rock, but I was pretty damn impressed by the ridiculous rhythms Maps & Atlases' drummer was throwing down--especially at those times in the set when he was also simultaneously playing the glockenspiel.

WTF: I didn't get a chance to ask the dudebro behind me who he thought he was going to be seeing, so I never did find out why he kept yelling requests for George Strait songs during Ra Ra Riot's set.

Random Note: I thought it was pretty cool that RRR frontman Wes Miles mentioned that the band had attended a Dallas Stars game the night before.

By The Way: I learned the hard way that using your only writing implement as a drumstick is not a good idea when you are taking notes for a review. When my pen exploded into pieces during the Maps & Atlases set, it took some MacGyver-like rigging to finish out the night.


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