Show Review: Ra Ra Riot and 1,2,3 @ The Carnegie Lecture Hall 12.17
Ra Ra Riot and local indie favorites 1,2,3 hit the Carnegie Lecture Hall this past weekend for another installment of The Andy Warhol Museum’s Sound Series. Since its inception in 2004, The Warhol’s “Sound Series” has been pairing nationally and internationally touring artists with local acts. The marriage of Ra Ra Riot and 1,2,3 makes a lot of sense despite the seated setting. Throughout 2011, as a part of a new Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh collaborative initiative between The Andy Warhol Museum and The Carnegie Museum of Art, the two museums co-presented a series of performances in various Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh spaces. So, in the end I get it – had this show happened at The Warhol, it would have sold out in a heartbeat, and I must say, the Carnegie Lecture Hall is a beaut!
1,2,3 opened the night and gave a fantastic as usual performance. What began as a bump in the road with the sound cutting out, the band turned into an opportunity to play a second time and kill it. I remember Neon Indian doing the same thing a year or so ago at Brillo. It’s always a good idea, in my opinion, to re-play a song that gets interrupted. It’s only fair to give your audience the full package. The venue had an intimate feel to it, which was a change of pace for the band, but they handled it like champs.
Next up, Ra Ra Riot. We couldn’t even suck an entire drink down in the lobby before these cats came on. It was rather odd to see a very danceable band play a seated venue. It’s much easier to take notes while sitting down, so I made sure to pay attention to the audience often. I noticed a lot of head-bobbing and leg tapping. Claps, of course, you’ll always have claps. And then, finally someone got the balls to stand up in the back and dance behind us. Props to you, whoever you were! Had everyone stood the entire time the show might have been a bit more energetic, but it was still solid. The band is comprised of a guitarist, bassist, cellist, violinist, keys and two vocalists – the main one being Wes, with the cellist Alexandra filling in on back-up vocals or leads for a song or two. I couldn’t decide if I liked her voice, but Wes’ is certainly on point. I was instantly reminded of Vampire Weekend, and sure enough, halfway into the show, the band played their version of the track “Can You Tell“. This track exists alternatively as “Can You Discover” by Discovery, which is a collaboration between Ra Ra Riot’s lead singer Wes and Vampire Weekend’s lead vocalist, Rostam.
The members of the band complimented each other very well. They were a solid package, all familiar enough with their individual instruments to play them together in a way that sounded like they’ve been together for decades. This is far from the case, however, as they formed in 2007 and were lucky enough to play CMJ within six months of their formation. That’s instant chemistry for ya. The night appropriately ended with their breakthrough hit “Boy“, which you might recognize from the Honda commercial. That’s the song that got me hooked. And just when you thought the night was complete, they re-emerged to play an encore. Two songs and a standing ovation later, the night was over, and I was glad to see yet another fantastic up-and-coming indie pop band.