Concert Reviews

Last Night: Ra Ra Riot at Lola's Saloon

Ra Ra Rioting. (Cameron Muilenburg)
Ra Ra Riot
April 10, 2008
Lola's, Ft. Worth
Better than: Dancing with yourself in your bedroom mirror--you loser, you!

I can't help it. I dig Ra Ra Riot. I like their sound. I like how it manages to be grandiose and intricate at the same time. I like how I can't help but tap my foot when I hear it.

And I loved the idea of Ra Ra Riot being paired with The Little Ones for Thursday's show. It seemed a perfect fit; I'd seen both bands perform live before this show, and I knew heading into the show that, despite the differences in their styles, each act provides a contagiously fun atmosphere on stage.

Then I got caught in some construction-caused traffic on I-30 en route to the show. Ugh. By the time I parked my car outside of Lola's I could hear The Little Ones performing their insanely catchy song, "Lovers Who Uncover," and I knew it had to be the last song of their set. It was; by the time I stepped into the venue, The Little Ones were unplugging their gear.

Oh well. I didn't drive all the way to Ft. Worth for them. I did it for Ra Ra Riot. And the Syracuse-based act didn't disappoint--the band's Lola's set was certainly a good time. A few weeks removed from SXSW, Ra Ra Riot's members seem even more comfortable with the new-ish arrangements to their older tracks (updated for its upcoming debut LP). And the band members certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves, smiling, whispering to each other and laughing at each other's antics.

The sound at the venue did, however, disappoint a little. The set started off with Allie Lawn's cello turned up far too high on the system and, though the error was quickly fixed, the sound system did seem mixed a little high all night. Either the band didn't notice (jumping around for a 40 or so minutes can mess with your head) or they were too professional to let it affect their performance.

In all, it was a minor snafu, and the far-too-small crowd at Lola's didn't let it get to them. Standing a good ten or so feet removed from the stage, the crowd tapped its collective feet and nodded its head with the band as if they were waiting for vocalist Wesley Miles to ask them to inch up. When he did just that, the crowd responded by matching the band's energy for the remainder of the set, dancing in place and keeping their eyes transfixed on the happenings on stage. And when the show came to a close at midnight, everyone seemed disappointed. -- Pete Freedman

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Turns out I actually graduated from Syracuse University in the same graduation class as three of Ra Ra Riot's members. But I never knew any of the current members of the band--I did have a class or two with deceased drummer John Pike--and, really, I didn't know the band even existed until I'd graduated. I wish I had, though.

Random Moment: This was only the two bands' fourth show together on this tour, but you'd think at least they'd be familiar with each others' sets at this point. Either way, it was pretty charming to see The Little Ones' guitarist dancing and smiling within the audience like he was hearing Ra Ra Riot's music for the first time and like it was causing him to see God.

By The Way: Apparently this Ra Ra Riot/The Little Ones tour is sponsored by Scion. Or so the poster inside the venue's door indicated...Yeah, I didn't get it either.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman

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