Ah, a night at the Varsity Theater, not a finer music venue in the Twin Cities and not a more fitting band to grace its stage than Ra Ra Riot.
The night started was started off by a little four piece band called Princeton and despite being young and slightly cheesy they put on a pretty good show. Their sound consisted of mostly indie pop with some obvious cues taken from the likes of the Smiths and early Beatles.
Next up was Maps and Atlases. Where Princeton was still cutting their teeth Maps and Atlases were seasoned musicians. These guys covered the sounds of indie rock, bluegrass, folk, classic rock and psychedelia. Everyone in the band was very skilled at their respective instruments especially the drummer. He was all over the place and yet played with precision. The two guitarists often traded off guitar solos spending much of their time tapping away at their fret boards. The bass player wasn’t bad either. My main complaint with this band was the singer’s voice. He sounded like he had a mouth full of oatmeal and that my friends is not a good thing. I found it to be incredibly distracting so I tried to mostly focus on their musicianship.
The main event of course was Ra Ra Riot. The last time I saw Ra Ra Riot was about a year ago at the 7th Street Entry which is one of the smaller venues in Minneapolis with a capacity of around 250. In the year since Ra Ra Riot has increased in popularity now playing the 500 capacity Varsity. When they played the show at the Entry these guys were a very new band and they totally won me over with their energy and amount of fun they seemed to be having. Plus the music was great. They incorporated a new brand of indie pop in the vein of Vampire Weekend with a classical touch greatly utilizing both the cello and viola. Unfortunately at last night’s show I felt they lacked the same kind of energy I remember from before. Don’t get me wrong they still put on a really good show but it just wasn’t the same. I think part of the problem is the fact that they only have around 12 songs and after touring for the past couple of years I’m sure they’re starting to get sick of playing those same 12 songs night after night. On a more positive note, since they have been playing those same 12 songs night after night, they now play them very well. The band was tight as ever in that regard. It was also great to see Ra Ra Riot play a larger venue and to see everyone having a good time. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and towards the end of their set singer Wes Miles mentioned this will be their last tour in support of their album The Rhumb Line and that they would be working on a new album very soon. This is great news indeed as I am excited to see what these guys have will have in store for us on their sophomore release and it will be great to hear some new material the next time they’re in town. If you’re unfamiliar with Ra Ra Riot be sure to check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/rarariot