Concert Review: Rah Rah at the Double Door (Chicago, IL)

Rah Rah (Regina, Saskatchewan)
November 21th, 2012
Double Door in Chicago, IL

What day is it? Why did I eat so much? I once had a friend tell me she had to undo the top button of her pants after a plentiful Thanksgiving dinner. At least I’m not there yet. Right?

The term “food coma” gets thrown around pretty loosely these days, but I think what I experienced was a full-blown Thanksgiving overthrow. The past few days I was lost in family, food and “Call of Duty” tactics from my younger brothers.  A house full of eight people, two dogs and an ever-present aroma of delicious foods cooking is never an ideal atmosphere for writing.  Do you know how long it’s been since I smelled chocolate chip cookies bake?

Yes, these are all just excuses for why the Rah Rah concert review is going up today, and wasn’t up on Wednesday, Thursday, Black Friday or Saturday. For many writers, including myself, writing is synonymous with isolation. Now that I’m back in my small bedroom in Milwaukee, I have no more excuses. I’ve productively written in this room before so I always tell myself I can do it again. And even though I know leftovers are lurking in the fridge, I promise to finish this review before the relapse.

Canadian Thanksgiving was on October 8th this year, so the Saskatchewan-based band had their holiday festivities behind them when they rolled into Chicago Tuesday night.  The show was at the Double Door and Rah Rah was the top billed of a four band night, therefore disclosing a late-night set time of 10:45 p.m.

When we arrived at the venue, the second band, The Violet Lights, were playing to hardly no one in the front pit.  Most fans already in the attendance were sitting at the bar or huddled around cabaret tables near the sides and in the back of the room.  It was sort of a jarring scene at first, as I had considered buying tickets in advance to avoid a potential sellout of the intimate, 500-person venue.  Tickets were only $7 for the show, and the atmosphere at the Double Door was that of a local band night at a corner bar. However this wasn’t a student band from Wicker Park. It was Rah Rah from Canada, a band touring behind an excellent new album, and who had actually sold out a venue in Montreal a few days prior. It was a sober reminder of the diligence necessary for even the best of bands to grow their fan base and make their mark.

Both The Violet Lights and Chicago-based opener, Exit Ghost, were solid opening acts, definitely worthy of checking out. Before Rah Rah took the stage, my brother and I made the bold move to the front center of the pit, and the majority of the concertgoers filled in as well. However it was still one of the more spacious concert pits I’ve stood in; the overall attendance did not seem to top 40 people, and that was including some members of the opening bands.

Rah Rah did not let the late start time or sparse crowd affect their energy. I was able to catch up with Kristina Hedlund from the band after the show, and she mentioned how they were still relatively new to touring in the States and they were excited to play for anyone who makes it out.

Rah Rah kicked off the set with “Art And A Wife,” wasting no time in jumping into the The Poet’s Dead material. Erin Passmore is a prominent singer for the band but she surprisingly also plays drums on many of the tracks, including the first few songs of the night. She then would take the mic on the catchy single “Prairie Girl.”  When I first saw Rah Rah play live, Passmore’s powerful voice was definitely a highlight, and many in the crowd applauded and cheered at the first few notes she sang.  There was a similar reception for her Tuesday night at the Double Door.

“Dead Men” and “Run” were other favorites played off of The Poet’s Dead.  Rah Rah also performed “Little Poems,” a fantastic slow-burn jam released earlier in the summer.  The band didn’t do too much crowd interaction between songs, but it was evident they were having fun on stage amongst trading instruments with each other.

To continue Rah Rah live tradition, the confetti gun went off about two-thirds of the way through the show. I was also stoked to hear two of my favorite songs prior to The Poet’s Dead, “Beaches” and “Duet For Emmylou And The Grievous Angel.” The latter actually closed out the set, around nearly midnight.  It’s a fantastic stomper and I think it was better because of how late it was.

After the Chicago stop Rah Rah were making their way to California for their first exploration of shows there (you can find those dates here).  It was evident from the Double Door crowd size that the band is still trying make a name for themselves in American cities. And now is the time for them as The Poet’s Dead is definitely an album that is only going to help exposure.   There wasn’t a ton of people at the Double Door show, but those that were there were grateful to be part of such an intimate experience.  There is an inexplicable magic in the air when discovering a band before they break big; that feeling was definitely present Tuesday night.

Thoughts?

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