We in Tallahassee are blessed. No one in their right mind would think that Tallahassee gets some of the greatest acts in the world to come perform on a dinky little stage for a small group of usually unappreciative college kids. But over the years I've seen some of the best live acts around today grace Tallahassee's stages.
If you want big names, how about Dick Dale, Wilco, Andrew W.K., and Spoon? If you want increasingly popular bands, how about Rilo Kiley, The Hold Steady, Death Cab For Cutie, and so on and so on. If you want semi-obscure bands, how about getting an average of two unsigned bands (or bands on very tiny labels), some of which actually make it to the big leagues? We got those. And I've seen them all. In Tallahassee.
I was absolutely floored last night when Ra Ra Riot rolled into town.
Everything they did was synchronized without being mechanical. They were one of the fastest bands to set up after their openers that I've ever seen, and that gets points right off the bat. They also played all of their songs super-fast, which usually doesn't work for me since I know the recordings so well. But this time, it just blew me away -- they were done with their set and going into their encore (no bullshit offstage time spent fucking around in the greenroom) 45 minutes in. I wanted 45 minutes more.
Onstage, everyone in the band moved with the music. Even when one guy was playing only a tiny keyboard for a song, he was leaning into it, getting real low, involved. And it wasn't cheesy at all -- it was organic. They really liked it. A lot of band members were singing along with the songs while playing, but not into a microphone. I usually hate this in bands, but in this one, it just worked out so well. They actually liked playing for us.
Two girls on strings (electric cello, electric violin), one guitar, one bass, one drummer. And it was beautiful. Everyone could play well, and everyone did. I lose words for these sort of performances -- they transcend language. Even the words they're singing don't matter (even though they're very good).
I was really excited, because I didn't know how the material on record would translate on stage. But they nailed it. So much better than the recording, but at the same time, now I have more respect for their album. Which I had written a review for.
Definitely in the top ten percent of concert experiences for me. And I didn't even like the opener.