Ra Ra Riot @ Paradise 1.26.13

by Andy Robinson (Journalism), published March 6th 2013

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Ra Ra Riot, a little rock band from Syracuse, N.Y., could easily be considered Passion Pit’s underrated, overshadowed brother. Like Passion Pit, they use a lot of electronic elements. But where Passion Pit weaves together synthesizers and keyboards, Ra Ra Riot picks up a violin and a cello. Here’s this upbeat rock band…with a sensual string backup? It’s a very interesting marriage of instruments, and a mesmerizing spectacle to see on stage.

Ra Ra played at the Paradise, one of Boston’s smaller and more intimate music venues. Just a few shows into promoting their latest album, Beta Love, which was released less than a week before this performance, the band played a fast-paced show filled with cool pillars of changing lights and little talk in between songs. Aside from the occasional apology from lead vocalist Wes Miles for playing songs that the audience may not be able to sing along to, it was back-to-back song after song. Personally, I like conversation from a band. I want stuff you can’t get on the album. But that’s just me.

The majority of the show was music from their new album, but did that stop the audience from enjoying it? Of course not. They still played hits like “St. Peter’s Day Festival.” Oddly, they didn’t play “Massachusetts.” In their defense, it is a pretty dark song inspired by the death of their original drummer, John Ryan Pike. It wouldn’t have made sense in the upbeat set, despite being a locally inspired tune.

You should know, I’m not a die-hard fan of this band, nor do I know a lot about them. What I do know about them, I’m impressed by. They’ve only been on the scene since 2007, but have managed to produce three albums and a number of EPs. Standing directly in front of the stage (and at eye-level to Miles’ groin) at this show and not being a fanboy was intimidating to say the least. I didn’t know the words, I didn’t know all the songs, and because of this I probably looked like a deer caught in the headlights to them. I was very misplaced. But still, near the end of the show, Miles high-fived me along with a zealous fan at my side. I didn’t touch the hand of The Boss here, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t still enjoy it.

I don’t like going to concerts where I’m rolling the dice on the band. You could end up having an awful time. Or, in this case, you could have a really awesome time. It is the Paradise after all. Shows are just the right price there and you can take a chance on a band you’re not sure about. Ra Ra Riot impressed me and gave the fan-heavy audience what they wanted.

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