LIVE REVIEW: Hurray for the Riff Raff + Clear Plastic Masks @ The Aladdin Theater, Portland 4/19/14
As expected on a Saturday night at the Aladdin Theater in SE Portland, Oregon, there is a long line at the door. Once filtering past the concessions ($5 craft beers and fresh pizza) and onto the floor, rows of antique hardwood theater chairs greet the crowd. An older concertgoer, previously advising a young couple to “Go straight to the front. Just push people out of the way,” is obviously confused that the show would be seated. Sure, this is folk music, but the opening act, Nashville’s Clear Plastic Masks are straight rock.
As the seats fill up, Clear Plastic Masks frontman Andrew Katz heads on stage to start the show, coaxing nervous audience members onto the small dance floor between the first row and the stage. As the music gets louder, more and more people filter up front. I put my earplugs in and I notice an older couple covering their ears. That’s much better – we’re at a concert now.
Clear Plastic Masks know their stuff – their brand of loud southern rock n’ roll is simple and honest, and the band has more than enough energy to keep the crowd entertained. Guitarist/keyboardist Matt Menold hops around like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, at one point hitting the keyboard so hard it almost flips off the stand.
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Lee Segarra took the stage for a solo song, then was joined by the rest of the quartet. They aren’t exactly quiet, either, and play several dancier numbers in addition to songs from their new record, Small Town Heroes. There were a few old Here it Comes from 2008’s It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You and “Lake of Fire” from 2012’s Look Out Mana, the latter with help from Menold of Clear Plastic Masks.
The chemistry between Alynda and fiddle player Yosi Perlstein is always fantastic – the two play off each other spectacularly. The show wrapped up with an encore featuring Matt Menold on guitar and Clear Plastic Masks’ Charles Garmendia on drums, followed by a fun duet called Fiddlesticks featuring Yosi and Alynda sharing a violin.
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Small Town Heroes tour just kicked off for a trip down the west coast, back to New Orleans, followed by several festivals for the summer. It’s definitely not a show to be missed, although tickets are already sold out for the April 22nd show at San Francisco’s The Independent. Check upcoming dates here.
Check out more photos from Hurray for the Riff Raff and Clear Plastic Masks HERE!