review by Jason Kinnard
photos by Puja Parakh
What a great line-up for a blistering cold Wednesday night (2/25) at Neumo’s. Not a lot of weekday shows have a line-up quite this diverse, and local opener Telekinesis set the tone with an amazingly fresh set of Beatles-esque pop from their brand new EP, Coast of Carolina. The show was their final warm up before a small tour with Ra Ra Riot and Cut Off Your Hands that was starting the next morning. Not only are they a great local band and some of the friendliest musicians you’ll ever meet, but they also taught us that raccoons were “Nature’s Bandits” so they were educating us as well.
Next up were New Zealand indie rockers Cut Off Your Hands. Definitely the most energetic band of the night, their raw energy was an interesting switch from the sweet melodic pop of Telekinesis and Ra Ra Riot. When the lead singer Nick Johnston wasn’t jumping on kick drums and flailing on the sweat-covered stage, he was busy leaping into the crowd, microphone stand in hand, cords wrapped around everyone’s feet and necks. Their music sounded very British at times, but their tight mix of bass and drums and harmonized vocals set them apart. They played most of the songs from their new debut album, You and I. Their live version of “Turn Cold” was definitely an eye opener and I would have to think that Phil Hadfield is one of the better bassists performing right now. Think of a British version of We Are Scientists and you’d be close. You just have to smile at bands that have so much fun at what they do.
Rounding out the line-up and capping off a fantastic evening were New York headliners Ra Ra Riot. The band took the stage to a loud applause and it was obvious this was who the crowd was waiting to hear. Being on local label Barsuk probably didn’t hurt either. Ra Ra Riot has played a few shows in Seattle already and actually recorded their amazing new album, The Rhumb Line here in Woodinville. As is strangely typical for a lot of NY bands, they consider Seattle their second home and we just eat that stuff up.We love you too, NY! Why the connection between New York and Seattle? Nobody seems to know -- maybe we just both like good music? The stage went from almost empty to almost full with the 6 members of the band and a host of “non-typical” instruments littering the stage. There was a lot of stuff going on up there; a full standing cello of sorts, a violin player, guitars, drummer, keyboards, and a singer. Surprisingly, they make it all work. For most live bands, strings are typically an afterthought but after listening I’m not sure their sound would be possible without them. The new songs exploded off the stage and sounded amazing live. Definitely the “tightest” band of the night and new songs like “Dying is Fine” and “Ghost Under Rocks” were noticeable favorites. Just another Wednesday night in Seattle..
All three bands will play a host of West Coast shows before heading to SXSW and Ra Ra Riot will play several more shows in Seattle this year.