Photos by Allegra Rosenberg
The Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles felt like the center of the universe on Thursday night as it played host to a stacked slate of some of the best bands in indie rock today. Ra Ra Riot’s headlining tour in support of their fantastic new album Need Your Light made its stop in LA, and it felt like everyone in the room had the privilege of knowing they made the right choice in their evening plans.
The night kicked off with Massachusetts all-girl 3-piece And The Kids. Most of the gathering crowd probably had never heard of them, but they instantly made an impact with their catchy, electrified folk-punk. Hannah Mohan’s pure vocals were indelible, as the band played through tracks from their 2015 debut album Turn To Each Other. Their set featured many an endearing surprise, such as a cameo by a stuffed deer and Mohan picking up an electric ukulele in the shape of a Telecaster to play the last few songs. With vocal support by skilled drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro and a steady rhythm from Taliana Katz on bass, And The Kids made their mark by the end and got the whole crowd cheering.
Next up were indie darlings PWR BTTM, whose delightful queer pop-punk seems to be everywhere these days, from NPR to Rolling Stone. This was the third time I’d gotten to see them in so many months, having caught their first LA show ever at the Bootleg and a set of theirs at SXSW, and it’s the mark of a truly great band that each show was more fun than the last. The flow of constant, uproarious banter between Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce that always makes up a large percentage of their set was the perfect counterpart to their energetic riffs and powerful lyricism about love, relationships and sexuality. The sight of the whole Teragram Ballroom jumping up and down to the brilliant “Dairy Queen” was the perfect lead in to Ra Ra Riot taking the stage.
Ra Ra Riot, the long-running OGs of orchestral indie pop, found their sweet spot in Need Your Light, and it was a pure delight to see them perform the new songs alongside their classic hits. Lead singer Wes Miles’ powerful voice soared above the instrumentation, and the energy level never dropped below “HELL YES” throughout their entire hour-plus set. Violin and cello alongside bass, guitar and drums makes for a truly stirring musical experience, and tracks like “Bouncy Castle” and “Absolutely” shone in the live setting. I spotted Rostam Batmanglij in the crowd and hoped he’d make an onstage appearance for “Water” or “I Need Your Light”, but alas he remained offstage — still, there was no disappointment to be had once the songs got going in all their glory. Ra Ra Riot’s joyous performance was the perfect way to spend an otherwise unremarkable Thursday night.
Ra Ra Riot
And the Kids