Review: Ra Ra Riot at Valley Bar
Glitter and lights, face paint and comedy, a deer and an evening. Last night’s Ra Ra Riot concert at Valley Bar, a favorite speakeasy type venue for many Phoenicians as well as performers was, in a word, eclectic.
PWR BTTM. What can I say about them that would do them justice? This dazzling duo depicted and voiced brutal honesty in the most vulnerable way. Not only through their spoken interludes between songs, but also through the songs themselves. “I wanna boy who thinks it’s sexy when my lipstick bleeds” is a lyric in their song “I Wanna Boy,” and clearly the words are nothing that are trying to be hidden behind. In our current culture, gender and sexuality have only recently become topics that the masses are feeling comfortable discussing, and goodness I only wish they all could have seen PWR BTTM last night. The gaudy and unique get up of the two alone could have set a new precedent, but that in conjunction with their brief, yet very to the point, songs lifted me into a place of immediate respect and adoration for them. Their set was filled with wit and open-mouthed shouts, songs that were too short, guitar skills that exceeded my expectations, and of course, fashionable accessories.
And The Kids took stage next and introduced us all to their deer friend. Yes. Their deer friend by the name of Andrea. Andrea had many roles throughout the performance, her most notable one being when lead singer/guitar player Hannah Mohan rode her about the stage for a bit. In the end though, Andrea showcased majesty upon the stage that was inspiring. But back to the music. As soon as the notes of their music made their way into my ears, I fell in love. From three girls came sounds and melodies that I didn’t know could affect me so. It would have been all too easy to close my eyes and lose my surroundings, but then I wouldn’t have been able to witness the excitement and passion these ladies brought to their performance. Near the end of one of their songs, Hannah and bass player Taliana Katz lay down upon the floor, put their feet together, and began a sort of jogging leg motion while still playing the song. It came out of nowhere and was such a surprise, and I was filled with joy at the sight of it.
Now we get to the headliner, a little band you may know of by the name of Ra Ra Riot. This was my fourth time seeing them live. I don’t know if any Phoenicians remember a venue called The Clubhouse, but I saw one of my very first shows there, and the band playing just so happened to be Ra Ra Riot. We’ve all come a long way since then, we being the band, myself, and what was once The Clubhouse. Last night they certainly put on a sold-out-show-worthy performance. They played a splendid assortment of songs, even pulling some of my favorites from The Rhumb Line. They had a tight and vibrant sound throughout the evening. The angelic voice of Wes Miles is still ringing in my ears. Bass player Mathieu Santos however stole my heart last night. His jumps and dance moves and singing lyrics into the ears of his band mates showed a level of passion for the music that was hard for us audience members not to latch onto. In the end, the only thing we could do was dance along with him. One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about their set was the community Nord that was played. At different points in time, several of the members would put down their main instrument depending on the song and instead play some well placed rhythmic chords along with the music. The band is made up of some incredibly talented musicians. Ladies in the front row could be seen looking up at the band with hopeful faces, singing along lyrics to songs both old and new. To say Ra Ra Riot has a large following in Phoenix is a bit of an understatement.