Riff Raff live is good, but not nearly as good as Riff Raff on the Internet
I drove all the way to Colorado Springs once because I heard a Myspace scene queen was going to be at a house party I was invited to. I wanted to see if she was real. She was.
Seeing Riff Raff at the Bluebird last night felt similar; I went to see if Jody Highroller was real. When you observe and interact with a persona on the Internet, there is a level of fascination with the tangible that keeps the relationship -- however skewed or disconnected or unreal it is -- alive. In a the span of a 55-ish minute set, the Riff Raff fascination waned.
Hype is everything for Riff Raff, and it almost worked for him live. Before the Texas rapper even entered the stage just shy of 10:40 p.m., he had the crowd in the palm of his hand -- phones were already raised high up in the air, cameras flashing and recording. The half-full Bluebird was buzzing with a wide variety of Jody Highroller disciples; dudes with side-ponytails stood next to fitted cap bros as girls with big, bouncy ringlets and sparkling sneakers squealed in anticipation. The internet was going to become real life, and everybody was ready for the party.
Two door-shaped rectangular boxes flanked the stage, glitchy projections bouncing off each one. The boxes would act as backdrops for a pair of dancers to shake their wigs while holding massive, novelty-size Riff Raff heads (a Katy Perry head and a giant version of his forthcoming Neon Icon album cover would appear, too.)
These structures would also house the go-go girls' writhing silhouettes as a giant horizontal screen played Riff Raff videos and mash-ups of random footage and Van Halen videos -- juxtaposing both Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth imagery -- played above. The set-up dwarfed the stage. It was very Internetty and very entertaining.
Jody opened with "Raiders Vs. Hawks," his pre-recorded tracks getting well into the song before he himself appeared to sort-of rap over his own voice. It was how the whole, short night would go -- not like a live show, but like watching YouTube with Riff Raff. When the dude outfitted in head-to-toe Neff did show up, it was electrifying, if only for an instant. He zipped through half-versions of "Deion sandals," "Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwwdinz" and "Up All Night on Cocaine."
Then the DJ Noodles track "Instagram" switched up the whole scene -- Riff Raff's posse grabbed phones from the audience and took up-close shots of the rapper before returning them to fans. It was a kind gesture, one that made the more boring parts of the quick show redeeming.