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Ra Ra Riot Rock the Independent

The Syracuse band Ra Ra Riot has always been tough to categorize. No matter what you call them (champer pop, orchestral crooners, shoe-gazing mods), their sound has a way of evoking a range of past hitmakers from Pat Benatar or Talk Talk to Belle and Sebastian or Joy Division. At the band’s sold-out show at the Independent last night, ever-earnest lead singer Wes Miles made sure to let the crowd know that he loved San Francisco and the crowd let the band know that San Francisco reciprocated.

Ra Ra Riot played a 14 song set which consisted mostly of tracks off The Rhumb Line, including the 80s movie montage-inspired “Too Too Too Fast,” and the driving, cello-haunted “Ghosts Under Rocks,” and the fuzz-poppy “A Manner to Act” from their self-titled debut EP. And while the opening acts (the Irish pop punk band the Hooks, the Tokyo Police Club-twins Telekinesis and New Zealand’s poor-man’s version of Babyshambles, Cut Off Your Hands) were solid, Ra Ra Riot’s reminded San Francisco that their originality lay in evoking other acts while carving out a sound wholly their own.