Tuesday night at the Doug Fir, young Sycracuse buzz band Ra Ra Riot were positively radiant. With an adhesiveness and enthusiasm on stage not witnessed since the Partridge Family, Riot won the crowd over through and through.
Frontman Wes Miles bears a vocal resemblance to Zach Condon of Beirut; his voice is thick, quivering, and unfaltering. Supported by the elegance of cello and violin and snappy percussion, Ra Ra Riot is like a theatrical version of the Police or even Vampire Weekend, in the event the latter had a richer, more elastic sound. It's worth being weary of most bands with a lead singer that does little else. But that feeling is downright inappropriate next to Miles' stunning, bouncing, and boiling voice.
The six-piece drama-rock troop did a little experimenting, running through a couple of new tracks (one for the very first time). Yet, the band's collective stagemanship— bookended by headlocks, cheek kisses and high tens—made even the newest songs sound like well-rehearsed oldies. With one album to its name, 2008s celebrated The Rhumb Line
, Ra Ra Riot could have been tied down by a short set list or indifference toward tracks played one too many times.
Much to the joy of the packed lounge, Ra Ra Riot possessed the same eagerness to play you did when jamming with your high school chums. This led, rather seamlessly, into lengthy, blossoming songs that were thespian in nature, catchy and clever in sound and content. It's no revelation that these guys are off to play Craig Ferguson, SXSW and Sasquatch. They've got one foot in the musical trend of the day and another in genre innovation.
"Thanks for dancing," Miles said, enamored by his frolicking support group before him. "We'll see you soon." Not soon enough.
Ra Ra RiotSpace
Photos by Mark Stock