Ra Ra Riot shakes up SoFla

Alexandra Lawn, the cellist from Ra Ra Riot, dances with her instrument mid-concert at Culture Room Monday night, March 7. The band is touring after their second album was released in 2010. The Luyas, a Canadian band, opened the show, which drew fans from all over south Florida. This was the farthest south the six-member band from Syracuse, NY, has ever performed.Brittney Bomnin//Art Director

Amid the Middle Eastern décor and the smell of herbs at Fort Lauderdale’s The Culture Room, I sleepily stood on the second-floor HiBar ready to discover a semi-underground indie rock band on a school night.

But Ra Ra Riot’s first concert in South Florida definitely kept me wide awake.

Following the opening act, Canadian electro-pop ensemble The Luyas, Ra Ra Riot took the stage two hours after doors opened. And it was well worth the wait.

Ra Ra Riot was founded on the campus of Syracuse University in 2006 and recently released their newest album “The Orchard,” which the band wrote in a peach orchard while living on a New York farm.

On Monday night, the vivacious Ra Ra Riot instantly got the room jumping with the drum-pumping “Massachusetts,” just one of the new album’s many hits. Heads were bopping and The Culture Room was alive with movement to Ra Ra Riot’s upbeat tempo. Even band member Mathieu Santos was rocking like a robot with his bass. “Boy,” the band’s last song before an encore, had the crowd clapping along, evidence of Ra Ra Riot’s great connection with their audience.

The band kept the energy high throughout with vocalist Wes Miles’ passionate riffs and intense trills from violinist Rebecca Zeller and cellist Alexandra Lawn, especially during “Do You Remember,” a softer number.

As the emotion escalated during “You and I Know,” Lawn, who was previously on the keyboard, turned up the passion as she took the microphone with an incredible vocal range.

The most impressive part of Ra Ra Riot live was undoubtedly their versatility on stage. The band’s alternative genre itself seems a mixed breed, with hints of folk, ‘80s pop and adult contemporary. And the band, too, is filled with variety. With two girls and four guys, a unique string section and revolving singers and keyboardists, Ra Ra Riot was constantly dancing and shifting roles on the stage.

Although Ra Ra Riot may seem similar to the motley beneath the indie umbrella (namely to the band’s friends in Vampire Weekend), their show was moving- not just physically- and made the group’s premiere in South Florida simply a great time.

Alexa Lopez may be contacted at alopez@themiamihurricane.com.