Article and Photos by: Jason Robey
PHOENIX, AZ — The Valley Bar in Phoenix was packed on Monday night for a lively show, headlined by the Indie Pop group, Ra Ra Riot. Concert goers were greeted by a large “sold out” sign in front of the door, as those who bought tickets walked into the venue area, where the tables which usually adorn the back of the room were moved and stacked in the corner to accommodate tonight’s crowd.
The house was practically full when the evening kicked off with the first of two opening bands, PWR BTTM. The duo of Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce were already known to a fair portion of the crowd as they walked onto the stage wearing make-up and dresses. Hopkins sang and played guitar for most of the band’s 30 minute set, while Bruce was on drums, though they switched places for a couple songs in the middle. Their half-hour show was made up of songs from the band’s 2015 full-length debut, Ugly Cherries, including audience-pleasers like “I Wanna Boy” and “Dairy Queen.”
Following a short break to change out the stage, the Massachusetts trio, And the Kids took the stage, which was decorated with a nearly-life-size inflatable deer. The band, led by vocalist / guitarist Hannah Mohan, treated the crowd to a half-hour of music from their debut album, Turn to Each Other. Mohan, along with drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro and touring bassist Taliana Katz kept their show light-hearted and fun. Each member sporting different designs of glitter face-paint, they danced sometimes with each other, and sometimes with the inflatable deer.
After one more quick set change, Ra Ra Riot took the venue like a storm, opening with “Every Time I’m Ready to Hug,” from their 2016 release, Need Your Light, followed by “Binary Mind,” from 2013’s Beta Love. Before the night was over, the band would play 19 songs in the span of just over an hour, taking little time to talk between songs.
Vocalist Wes Miles glided seamlessly in and out of a falsetto voice throughout the evening, as they ran through 8 out of the 10 songs on Need Your Light, in addition to selections from their 3 previous albums. Violinist Rebecca Zeller put down her rhinestone-covered violin to play keyboard on a couple songs, while Milo Bonacci switched between keyboard and guitar throughout the evening.
The rhythm section of bassist Mathieu Santos and drummer Kenny Bernard kept it tight throughout the evening, as they chugged through fan favorites like “Dance With Me” and “Boy,” from their earlier albums, and the latest single, “Absolutely. Tonight’s lineup was rounded out by cellist Emily Brausa, who plays often with the band, though not an official member.
After a short leave from the stage, Ra Ra Riot played a two song encore to an enthusiastic crowd, consisting of one of their earliest singles, “Dying Is Fine,” from their debut album, finally ending on the title track from Need Your Light.
Catch Ra Ra Riot on tour in the U.S. through May, with And the Kids and PWR BTTM joining most dates.
Everytime I Need a Hug
St. Peter’s Day Festival
Too Too Too Fast
Can You Tell
Dance With Me
Run My Mouth
Dying Is Fine
I Need Your Light