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I’ve been so damn busy lately that I simply haven’t had the energy to go out and do things during the week it seems like. While I haven’t found any new free time, I have made it a priority to get back out there and see more live music. I’m still convinced there’s a future in it for me somehow.

On Sunday night I made the right decision to head out to Jack Rabbits to catch Ra Ra Riot and The Luyas. There were several factors conspiring against me going right up until about the last minute. Granted I did wait until the last minute to offer up my +1 and thinking I would have to go by myself, I almost decided to stay home and work on some much needed studying. Kinda like what I should be doing now actually. Christian saw my post on Facebook and offered a ride so I was set. Now I know for sure I can count on him when I need to get rid of a ticket at the last minute. He can always seem to find someone who needs one. The last time he came through was for the Flaming Lips a while back.

I’ve maybe heard one Rar Ra Riot song before but I had written an album review on The Luyas last month for EU. I remembered not hating the album so I figured it would be a decent night of music that might do my soul some good. By the time we arrived just before The Luyas set, a nice-sized crowd had amassed, perfect size really. I was hanging back with some AIGA friends when the band took the stage. About a minute after they started, I switched from casual observer to old school Jack Diablo document and absorb mode. They were blowing me away! The lighting was great, the analog synths were putting out some clean, deep, loud base lines and the drummer was all over the place. They had nearly everyone’s attention and were really vibing off of it. The lead singer made it a point to look every person in the eye it seemed like with what seemed like wonder or awe. It was if she had no idea why we were so rapt with attention. I’m sure she wasn’t aware that really good, new bands don’t come through that often or when they do, hardly anyone seems to know or care.

Their sound was extremely textured, getting noisy at some points but without losing the delicate beauty of the song. The floor was littered with pedals and lights were rigged to every piece of equipment. Oh yeah! And there’s a french horn player, you don’t see that everyday. AND! Frontwoman Jesse Stein sometimes plays an instrument she invented called a Moodswinger. You don’t see that EVER! IT looks almost like a sideways sitar or dulcimer of some kind to llok at it but it sounds really cool. They have a sort of Sigur Ros meets St. Vincent meets Arcade Fire thing going on and it really really works. I strongly recommend their new album Too Beautiful to Work, which is how I feel always.

I have to admit, having an iPhone 4 has made going to shows and documenting them a lot easier. Carrying around a camera was always such a burden and I’m a shitty photographer anyway so the camera on the new phone works in a pinch. I also took the opportunity to test out the video and sound and it seems like it’s going to work out.

Watching them was really funny because I remember it being the day before deadline and picking out their album at random and just writing the review without really processing it the way I was at the show. It’s cliche to even mention that they sound so much better live but it bears mentioning. In my opinion they stole the show.

Ra Ra Riot didn’t shock me the way The Luyas did but they were certainly a lot better than I expected. The stage was crowded and I can always appreciate a full band. I guess I’m pretty much in love with the cello player now. There’s nothing sexier than a pretty girl who knows how to play the shit out of an instrument. She was super sexy in an exotic, olive-skinned way as it was but she had a killer voice and shredded (if I can use the term) on that cello. I hope she reads this and stalks me. I’d buy her a nice bike. I would.

But yeah, it was a really great show and I’m super stoked I went. One thing that did catch my attention during the show was when Ra Ra Riot was on, the frontman asked how many in attendance had come to the last show. Crickets. Maybe eight people or so were there the first time they came through compared to a packed if not sold out crowd this time. It makes me really happy to know that Quiet Muff Ultra has you covered now and can hopefully prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future.

Then last night, a new experimental electronic band played at Underbelly. Ryat came all the way from Philly to play a free show in Jacksonville, now that’s rad! I got to preview their new album and the remix of it and I really dug it so I made a point to show up. The flyer said someone was providing visuals so I brought my new Canon HV30 along to take some sample video. I’ll probably never do anything with it, I just wanted to test it out and shows at Underbelly tend to be very cool-looking so I think it’s going to be a pretty cool thing. Although I could have done without the improvisational and off-beat drumming they did from time to time, they killed it on the syths and samples! The visuals were a nice touch as well. They covered Beach House, Radiohead and Flying Lotus which should give you a good idea of their sound. Throw in some Psychic Reality on top of that and there’s all you need to know.

Really stoked to be out there again checking out shows and even more stoked that good shows are becoming more abundant. Here we go!