Let me start off by saying I always love a band that takes sips of beer in between songs. The boys of Yellow Ostrich were delightfully playful, with front man Alex Schaaf charmingly interacting with the audience and willingly answering questions like “What is your favorite color?” (It’s red.) Not only that, but they were extremely talented. The songs ranged from garage rock grittiness to melancholic and haunting ballads, most of which included clever, not annoying, uses of looping. Schaaf passionately shredded on his guitar and drummer Michael Tapper beat the drums like they were someone he hated. However, it was bassist Jon Natchez who stole my heart. When Natchez was free of his duties as a bassist, he doubled as a full-blown brass band, playing the trombone and tenor sax with impeccable style and talent.
Following Yellow Ostrich, I had a feeling I was in for a good time with Delicate Steve when I saw the strobe lights come out. I am familiar with Delicate Steve’s music, and they have been climbing my “Most Played” list on iTunes throughout the year. The stage lights had been turned off, and one by one the members of the band arrived on stage, lit only from below by the aforementioned strobe lights. The minute Steve Marion and the band begin to play the appropriate “Welcome – Begin,” the audience knew it was time to dance. I felt like I was walking in on the Wild Rumpus, with the tribal-like percussion and Steve’s fancy fingers shredding on his treble-like guitar. It didn’t stop there, as Steve and his crew managed to keep the party going with upbeat jams like “Sugar Splash,” but still made time to showcase the band’s real talent with more melodic tunes (which are still very danceable). It was a phenomenal experience, one in which I will not miss out on if they come around again.
-Salt Water Jaffee
Ra Ra Riot returned to the Cradle in Carrboro with more dazzling dance songs. The newly-revamped Cradle provided almost twice the amount of dance space than in previous years, and most concert attendees took advantage of all the leg room! The six-piece band showed off their dynamic instrumental talents throughout their set, changing instruments and having different band members sing lead vocals. One of the best parts of Ra Ra Riot is their added twist on what could be average indie. Violinist Rebecca Zeller and electric cellist Alexandra Lawn were the most interesting to watch on stage because of their obvious passion for their instruments, and lulls in songs were spiced up with their luscious arrangements. Lead singer Wes Miles fed off the energy of the crowd thumping and dancing. He kept the crowd enthralled with his energy and vocals, which never seemed to miss a note. The New York band played their hits from their first CD, including “Ghost Under Rocks,” “Can You Tell,” and “Boy,” as well as others from The Rhumb Line. The band mixed in new songs from their second album The Orchard, such as “Shadowcasting.” Finishing off the night, Wes Miles told the audience we were a “special crowd,” and continued into the encore that left everyone dancing even after the music stop playing.