Despite the snow and bitter cold, turnout was excellent at Ra Ra Riot's sold-out show at Webster Hall on Friday night. The band is touring in support of their new LP Beta Love, out last week on Barsuk. While reviews of Beta Love have been mixed (it is, after all, light on the orchestral lilt that has long defined the band's unconventional pop), Ra Ra Riot's live show last night was skilled, energetic, and ultimately impressive.
If you're familiar with Ra Ra Riot's discography, you're also familiar with the vocal acrobatics that singer Wes Miles pulls off. Many bands aren't able to deliver on the promises their recorded work makes in a live setting. Happily, Ra Ra Riot is not one of those bands. Miles's vocals were incredibly strong, and every song was executed expertly with a great deal of skill and enthusiasm.
The set included a fairly balanced mix of material from the band's three LPs (which often isn't the case when a band is touring in support of new material). The crowd seemed equally excited about new tracks as old favorites like The Rhumb Line's "Can You Tell" and "Oh La" and The Orchard cuts "Boy" and "Too Dramatic." The crowd was full of serious Ra Ra Riot fans: they knew every word.
Guards, the band of Richie Follin (whose sister, Madeline Follin, is in Cults), opened with a set of what, in interviews, he has called "pop wave doom."