I had the pleasure of attending the Beta Love tour featuring Ra Ra Riot and Guards at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on January 24, 2013. It was a great show. The Union Transfer is increasingly becoming one of my favorite venues. If you haven’t seen a show there do yourself a favor visit their website, pick and show and enjoy. The venue is affordable, clean, and fan friendly. I have included the setlist for each band, a description of their set, and photos I took. NOTE: The photos and video I took were taken on my cellphone in the crowd. They are intended to give you an idea of what the show was like.
I was looking forward to seeing these guys because I listened to them in anticipation of seeing them. I liked what I heard especially the stuff from their 2011 7″. The set itself was solid but I didn’t love it as much as I expected. They were using smoke machines like it was the late 70s or 80s. It became laughable at one point. You could barely see them at all.
The songs themselves were more rock leaning then I thought. I was expecting another indie pop set to accompany Ra Ra Riot. The songs were not as catchy as they sounded online. They turned a couple of their tunes into five minute jam sessions. It was interesting but not exactly what I was expecting. They served as a good opener for this show.
Sail It Slow
Don’t Wake The Dead
Resolution Of One
Swimming After Dark
I See It Coming
Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot returned to the City of Brotherly Love for their Beta Love headlining tour. They were last in Philadelphia opening up for Passion Pit. At that show they played a few of the new tunes from their forthcoming new album. On this tour they played a lot more of their new disc which they seemed really proud of, they played almost all of the new album, eight of the 11 tracks. They also managed to play a lot of the old favorites.
There were so many highlights for me. The band seemed to enjoy playing tunes both new and old, jumping up and down and dancing a little bit as well. The light show was pretty good as well. I am often annoyed by light shows that are distracting with too many spotlights shining in your eyes and flashing in a manner that could aggravate someone’s epilepsy. I liked how the color bars had neat color combinations and they were vibrant without being obnoxious.
It was a good idea to get the crowd into a frenzy with “Too Too Fast”. It brought up the energy in the room. From there, they bounced all over their discography playing tracks from all three albums playing fast and slower tunes. All of it sounded amazing. “Oh, La” is one of my favorite tunes from their debut album, The Rhumb Line. It always sounds great live to me. The song really tends to come alive. My favorite part about the song is the drums and when it is played live, they sound snappy and sharp.
“Can You Tell” is probably my favorite song from this band. It is everything I want from it, smooth vocals, a beautiful string section and a bouncy rhythm. The lady who was playing the cello was a welcome sight because I can’t imagine songs like this one without the full string section. I don’t know if she is a new full time member or a just touring member but she did a great job filling in. She is no Alexandra Lawn, former cellist, but she did what she needed to.
Another song where the strings are a prominent feature is 2010’s The Orchard song “Too Dramatic”. It is my favorite song off of that album and once again sounded amazing live. I really love the bridge of the song and how it kicks back in with handclaps and everyone singing the words, “You’re too dramatic.” It sounded great.
The new songs sounded great as well. There was an even more beefed up string section on the songs, which I mentioned in my review is something that the album could have definitely used. “Is It Too Much” is a really laid back song. It sounded great live. I love how strong lead singer Wes Miles’ voice is in it. The interplay with him, Milo, and Rebecca on the song was great. I also really love the album closer, “I Shut Off”. It served as the concert closer as well and I think flourishes in that role. It will be a great song to sing along to at future shows. If you get a chance make sure you see this tour. It will be well worth your time.
Too Too Fast
St. Peter’s Day Festival
Is It Too Much
Dance With Me
Can You Tell
When I Dream
Run My Mouth
Ghost Under Rocks
Dying Is Fine
I Shut Off