Live: Ra Ra Riot in Phoenix

Standing in the Crescent Ballroom on Friday night, one couldn’t help but notice the overflow of hipster energy. Flannels and keen eye glasses are everywhere you turn. Everyone is mingling, laughing at jokes or swapping travel stories. Song recommendations are tossed across the age barrier as if it doesn’t exist. The evening started with JIM WARD. He and his band took the stage at 8:30 pm and were received with open arms. A small audience of approximately 75 people greeted them. They kicked it off with their powerful and rhythmic anthem “This Is Who I Am.” Wards vocals echoed through the room, carrying his deep and swinging Southern accent. They proved their versatility by bringing in a harmonica and even jingle bells. Heads nodding along to the beat, the sound carried everyone through the room. The 45 minutes melted away before anyone realized it had gone. After a slight intermission, the members of Ra Ra Riot: Milo Bonacci, Wes Miles, Mathieu Santos, Rebecca Zeller, Kenny Bernard, and John Pike took the stage. As soon as they stepped foot onto the small, intimate stage, the crowd broke into applause. More people had come in by the time the first note was played, around a hundred filled the room. Their sound can only be described as a blend between synth, pop, and classic rock. A mixture of sharp resounding keyboard and hard drums, paired with one of the smoothest bass lines I\’ve ever heard resulted in the completely original sound that is Ra Ra Riot. The show was all about the music. No tricks, no gimmicks. They wore common, comfortable clothes and let the music flow through them. A simple lighting set, occasionally set to the beat, acted more as a purely technical and necessary lighting so that the audience could see them. They let the sound and their performance be the show. Mathieu Santos, the bassist, spent the entire show dancing around and interacting with the audience, including yours truly. Lead singer Wes Miles lifted every note to a new level, his vocals like crystallized honey. Not to mention Rebecca Zeller’s bejeweled violin. I can verify, it was as fabulous as they say. Overall, the show was a wild success, amazing music and a great performance to go along with it. If you ever get a chance to see either act, don’t hesitate. You won’t regret it. -Sam Morse