Ra Ra Riot at Culture Room, March 7

Ra Ra Riot
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
March 7, 2011

Last night, a fashionably dressed crowd filled the Culture Room. And that's pretty much all they did, except for when Ra Ra Riot, a good but generic indie rock band, played one of their popular songs. At this point, the audience members bobbed their heads slightly more enthusiastically than they did throughout the rest of the 40-minute set.

Musically, the band is not interesting enough for a crowd to just stand there astonished, and they aren't groovy enough to get a room to dance. They do have a fun stage presence though, and they play together very well. They are a strong group in that way, and that seemed to be good enough to keep the packed house sharply attentive and happy. Also, as Tom Francis' article previewing the show made very clear, they have a very attractive cellist.

One audience member described the group as "a smaller Arcade Fire, with a lot of Vampire Weekend," an observation that rang true. Another audience member summed the band up in this way: "They're good. Nothing I haven't heard before, but [for] 15 bucks, I can't complain. Plus, hot girls on classical instruments." 

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Exactly. I was glad for these verifications, because for much of the show, I was wondering if I was missing something, and feeling kind of unhip. Plus, I've recently developed calf muscles which won't fit into my skinny jeans, so I was down a few points going in.

The six-piece band did deliver a good show. They were very energetic, well-rehearsed, have great group chemistry, and establish a good vibe with their audience. The tunes "Can You Tell" and "Boys" were the high points, evoking rhythmic clapping from the otherwise calm but attentive crowd. 

The main problem with the show itself was the sound. It was cruddy. The lyrics could not be made out at all, and the instruments -- including the cello played by the "hot girl" -- were hard to distinguish for the most part. 

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: For a band to excite me, something must move -- my feet, my heart, my brain, my booty. This band moved nothing.

The Crowd: as fashionably dressed as the band itself

Random Detail: I met a bartender who told me that in her 13 years working at the Cutlure Room, she has not said two words to "the Raven" (the raven-like man who sits up in the perch above and to the left of the stage). How mysterious!

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