photos by Toby Tenenbaum, words by Andrew Sacher
"The highlight had to be Ra Ra Riot coming
on stage to "Raining Blood" \m/" - Debbie Encalada
Ra Ra Riot played a free Celebrate Brooklyn show, the second to last one of the summer, in Prospect Park Friday night (8/5) with support from Buke & Gass and Delicate Steve.
Buke & Gass kicked things off with their unique brand of avant-pop, driven by their self-built instruments and whatever percussion the duo can manage to pull off with their feet. The circumstances definitely weren't the best for the Brooklyn-based band, who were opening a large, sparsely filled out venue for a much poppier act. But given the attention they deserved, Buke & Gass were able to prove that they've got some really interesting material. The duo focus more on rhythm than melody (which are usually far off-kilter) and are able to loop you in to hypnotic patterns, somewhat similarly to tUnE-yArDs, who they have opened for. On top of the attractively unsettling chord progressions, singer Arone Dyer delivers with a surprisingly beautiful voice, unlike the howls of the aforementioned tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus. As I said, the circumstances were not ideal, but I was definitely won over by their set and look forward to hopefully catching them in a smaller venue.
Their set was followed by Delicate Steve, who I first saw when they opened for Yeasayer at Governors Island last summer, and they haven't changed a bit. They played a mainly instrumental set which was sonically more fit for the jam scene, except for the fact that everything felt way too scripted. The band's bland chord progressions and overused jungle drum beats were added to only by uninspired, repetitive guitar solos.
At around 9 PM, the lights completely darkened and Slayer's "Raining Blood" blasted through the PA system as Ra Ra Riot ran out onto the stage. WIthout saying a word, Slayer faded out and Ra Ra Riot went directly into "Too Too Too Fast" off 2008's The Rhumb Line. The band played what they said may have been their longest set ever, which included most of both full lengths, a track off their self titled EP, and two covers. Save for a few exceptions, The Rhumb Line tracks stood out pretty significantly among the rest. The Orchard is a solid album start to finish, but many of the songs lack the urgency of their earlier material, which resonates so strongly in a live setting. When the band powered through classics like "Can You Tell," "Oh La," and "Ghost Under Rocks," the members were having so much fun on stage that you couldn't help but join them. They did hit some highs with the newer material though, notably on the Alexandra Lawn-fronted slow-burner "You And I Know" and when they closed their set with the frantic pop of "Boy." The band opened their two song encore with a cover of Steve Winwood's "Valerie," before diving into another standout, "Dying Is Fine," which saw singer Wes Miles run through the audience.
More pictures, videos, and Ra Ra's setlist from the show below...
Buke and Gass
Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot - "Dying Is Fine" at Prospect Park 8/5/11
Ra Ra Riot - "Boy" at Prospect Park 8/5/11
Ra Ra Riot - "Can You Tell" at Prospect Park 8/5/11
Ra Ra Riot - "You And I Know" at Prospect Park 8/5/11
Ra Ra Riot - "Ghost Under Rocks" at Prospect Park 8/5/11
Ra Ra Riot Setlist:
Too Too Too Fast
Do You Remember
You And I Know
St. Peter's Day Festival
Can You Tell
Saccharin and the War (Tommy Sparks cover)
Run My Mouth
Ghost Under Rocks
Valerie (Steve Winwood cover)
Dying Is Fine