Monday, October 6, 2008

Southwest - From Hollywood to Deserts

There is a drought of free internet at hotels throughout southwest America. Sorry for the massive delay in updates.

The trail picks up in LA... an exciting destination for me because I had never been there before in my life. I really felt Los Angeles hit me when we stopped at an In 'N Out. My good friend and college roommate is from LA, and I now see why the place is seemingly regarded in a religious manner. This is GOOD fast food. It puts McDonalds and BK to shame. The employees are freakishly nice too, almost in a Stepford Wives kind of way.

Arrival at the venue was successfully on time, allowing for a very thorough sound check and comfortable grace period before the show. In that period, I went to the UPS night-pickup center in downtown LA with Wes to pick up a new shipment of Ra Ra Riot shirts, a box of lights that we accidentally left in Lawrence. I was fortunate enough to happen to have a friend in Kansas who came to the show and was willing to help us out with the lost goods. What are the chances?

"The Echo" is a sub-venue of the Echo Plex next door, which apparently has much larger shows. But the capacity at our venue was maxed out at about 400 people for a sell-out show. It was a particularly fun show for me because I got to meet up with my cousin from California and many of my Syracuse friends who moved out to LA after graduation. The show was vibrant and energetic, as always.

We had the next two days off to do kind of whatever we wanted. The band was invited to the Puma Office/Warehouse in LA to get some free goods, and I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along and get some shoes. That evening after watching the first presidential debate with the band, I headed up to Burbank to spend the rest of the break with my Syracuse friends. A trip to Amoeba music and a waffle restaurant for brunch on Sunset Blvd was quite fun and "LA," but instantly crushed in novelty by a hike to the top of the Los Angeles hills. It was probably the most incredible view I've ever seen. You could see the entire valley, downtown LA in the distance, the ocean, and a perfectly colored sunset.

Next up was San Diego, where we rolled in to a restaurant called The Linkery, where Milo's brother is one of the head chefs. We were treated like kings there, enjoying I think 4 rounds of appetizers, and one of the best meals we've ever had. So good that Wes made a 30 second speech out of it on stage between songs. The crowd went nuts at the reference... so apparently this place is well known in town.

The show itself was in a very very small room. But the sound was great and the attendance was solid. The Morning Benders joined the tour at this show, who have been opening support ever since. They are really likable, nice, cooperative guys, as well as great musicians. To put it quickly from my gut reaction, their music is of a Beatles influence with a style similar to The Walkmen. Check them out: 
The Morning Benders.

We then drove all the way through the Arizona desert to Phoenix, where we stayed with Allie's great aunt. Its a beautiful home; complemented by a really nice backyard pool. I think we would have gone in it if we had more time to relax. Especially since its a HUNDRED degrees there. The show in phoenix was at a little tiny place called Modified Arts, which is basically a little boutique art gallery with a stage. The technical aspects of this place were less-than-easy to work with, but we made it happen, drawing a dedicated 100 people or so into the small room.

The band encountered an amusing musical blunder at that show, which is something I have never seen them do, given their extremely professional nature. It was funny, if anything. They kicked off St. Peter's Day Festival perhaps a bit prematurely, such that Wes's reference to the key of the song was missing. I think Milo might have given him the wrong chord or something also. Anyway, the whole song started strangely out of key and fell apart within a matter of seconds. Give me a D! give me a D!" .... **D chorddddd...** ... "Jeeez. Ifffff I go to Gloucester you know I will wait there for youuu" and so on. The quick reset and recovery was actually pretty impressive, and a unique "human" asset to the show!

Tuscon's Plush was an incredible show the following night, bringing in quite a few people in a market that the band had never played before. I will say, while I cant feel the same thing the band members do when they see people singing along to their songs, it is really really cool to see how many people choose to come to a venue to see them play every night around the entire country. They truly do have a growing fanbase that is as intruiged before the show as they are satisfied by the end.

In the midst of this all, my buddy Lane Crouse and I have been plotting a scheme of visual magic for the Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg shows. We've been in a dialogue with PRG, a production company that rents lights and such. Prepare to see Ra Ra Riot like you've never seen before if you're coming to either of those shows.

Texas and more to come later!


  1. Finally, a new post!

    Hope you're enjoying the Florida sunshine. It's rainy and depressing in Kansas.


  2. Andrew,

    I've really enjoyed reading your blog lately. Thanks! It has really gotten me stoked to see Ra Ra in ATL this Friday for the 6th time. Safe travels!


  3. Awesome entry!

    The blog rocks, hope everything is going well.


  4. awesome update! i'm really digging the pics!

    - Parker

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hey Andrew, I don't suppose I could coax you into putting a little extra light show into the Middle East date! :-> Saturday night in Cambridge--the place should be hopping.

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