The first of two packed night at the Commodore Ballroom for these two bands. Things kicked off with New York band Ra Ra Riot. There were a lot of bodies on stage here, and furthermore were pushed to the front with Young the Giant’s gear under sheets behind them. There was a warm response for the growing crowd for them, and some significant cheers for some of the songs, so while it seems much of the room was waiting for the headliners tonight, Ra Ra Riot also had a reasonable contingent of dedicated fans in attendance. Their songs are less riotous than one might imagine, though they have a bouncy energy on stage. Musically they have some soulful tunes and some that sounds like they could sit inside an 80s movie soundtrack. The only thing going sideways here seemed to be the drums – somewhat literally! A tech was frequently on stage readjusting Kenny Bernard’s cymbals and mics while he played. They had a delightfully lengthy set for an opening slot, perhaps being afforded extra time by the headliner’s gear being already mostly set up on stage.
Shortly, Young the Giant hit the stage in a fury. Frontman Sameer Gadhia is all over the place, dressed in loose-fitting togs that billowed around him as he slithered around the stage. He had at his disposal a rather complicated-looking stand covered in various tiny synths and percussion instruments that he frequently took advantage of. His energy seemed to wane a bit through the night – perhaps he just ran out of juice, or perhaps he was playing it up early for the photographers. As expected, the audience went nuts for the big singles, which were scattered throughout the set (especially the massive “Cough Syrup” and the new, more electronic “Something To Believe In.”). Their music is at times dreamy and at times driving.
Decorating the stage, a series of flags, a simple mountain shape behind them, and from time to time, a subtle starry sky effect twinkled to life behind them. Gadhia did not speak a whole lot. He mic’d the crowd once or twice, got a lot of arms waving in the air, but not a lot of spoken words came from him. Mostly he just talked about how fresh both the new album Home of the Strange is, as well as the tour they are currently on. They thanked the audience for letting them do their own thing and stick by them through musical changes, citing their own boredom if they were to stick with one thing forever. The buzzy, chilling intro to new song “Nothing’s Over” rattled the room to its foundations – it was like an approaching T-Rex – before skipping into its lively and lilty core. At one point the band even managed to get in a bit of synchronized turns (“Macarenas” style – one turn per bar). People around the crowd were dancing like maniacs as well. Surely night two was just as much of a treat, and before leaving the stage the final time, Gadhia hoped he would see some of the same people in attendance the next night.
Young the Giant
Ra Ra Riot