The last time I saw Ra Ra Riot, they played Musica in Akron to a small but enthusiastic crowd. Since then, frontman Wes Miles teamed up with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij (he plays everything from guitar to harpsichord) on the side project Discovery, whose self-titled album was a huge hit with indie rockers this summer.
The Los Angeles-based Princeton opened at the Grog Shop last night and integrated a few Riot members in what singer Jesse Kivel called “the show before the show.” Alexandra Lawn “Allie” joined Princeton for the duet “Sadie and Andy,” then bassist Mathieu Santos helped turn “Show Your Man Some Love When He Gets Home” into one of the night's best crowd pleasers.
As Chicago's Maps & Atlases played their set, RRR members mingled in the crowd almost unnoticed. Miles and Mathieu Santos played pinball by the merch table, while Maps' fully bearded Dave Davison warbled sweet unintelligible vocals over Hawaiian-influenced beats.
Of course, once Ra Ra Riot took the stage, they brought the house down. They opened with a few new songs before segueing into a bunch of tunes from their debut album, The Rhumb Line. Fans knew the lyrics to pretty much every song they sang (including “Dying Is Fine” and “Can You Tell”) — quite a change from the last time they played town. —Crystal Pirri