Ra-Ra-Rockin’ the Gate: Musical Riot in the HOP



Jenn Carey

Although it was one of the first few weekends back from the winter hiatus, Colgate did not hesitate to bring in big entertainment on Friday night. Rather than attending the typical Friday night gigs, a handful of students made their way down to the James C. Colgate Student Union to see the up and coming band Ra Ra Riot perform live in the Hall of Presidents free of charge.

The band, which has gained popularity since its founding in neighboring Syracuse, performed for the small crowd showing off their unique musical style. Despite being labeled in such musical veins as “alternative” and “rock” by iTunes, Ra Ra Riot brought a classical twist to the stage with their use of an electric cello and violin, which complemented the more traditional rock instruments.

While undoubtedly many students who attended the concert were rookies to the Ra Ra Riot experience, there were a few dedicated fans in the crowd excited for the opportunity to see the band up close. One such student, sophomore Brendan Hall, shared his enthusiasm for the performance.

“Rolling Stone named them one of the top bands to watch for 2008,” Hall said.

With the vote of confidence from Rolling Stone, a prime slot on the Colgate nightlife calendar, the weather too cold to be outdoors and security at the door of the Hall of Presidents (the HOP), the Ra Ra Riot concert had the potential to be a huge success. There were even coat racks for the concert attendees.

However, turnout for the concert was less than expected. The HOP appeared to have both less enthusiasm and fewer actual students confined within its walls than during the recent Drop/Add frenzy. The HOP as a venue provided some interesting acoustics, and the lack of seating was both a pro and a con. Though the natural response of a seasoned concert goer on his or her feet should be to dance, a small group of students, either from Colgate or Hamilton Central School, mistakenly decided that forming a mosh pit would be a good idea. Despite the crowd’s bad concert ettiquette, Ra Ra Riot put on a good show. Security only had to intervene twice to remove students from dancing onstage with the performers.

The general crowd vibe was positive, though it was clear only a few people had previously been exposed to Ra Ra Riot’s music.

“The band sounded a little better on the album,” Hall reflected. “Future work will probably be better because they are still a young band. I think it’s very important to attend these types of events because you never know who’s going to get big and you can say you met them. I saw Dashboard Confessional in 1999 for five dollars. Today a regular ticket will range from $50 to $500, and you’ll sit a mile away.”

If the pages of Rolling Stone hold any weight, Hall’s words might just prove to be true in the coming years as Ra Ra Riot continues to spread its musical talents and fame beyond the greater upstate New York area.

With any luck, if the Ra Ra Riot frenzy spreads, the crowd in the Hall of Presidents at any future performance will put both Drop/Add and self-scheduled exams to shame.