South by San Jose – a parking lot transformed into an outdoor oasis, free and open to everyone. Booze and bands. Pop up vendor tents. This corner stage of music tucks itself in the midst of SXSW, running congruent with the festival, just south of downtown. With all the people buzzing around, why not fire up the empty lots? Give those who wander a place to rest.
Hurray For The Riff Raff, frontrunner, Alynda Lee Segarra, is polite and powerful, pure with southern hospitality. Modesty blends itself into tightly spun words and waltz’s. The ensemble of keys, drums, upright bass, and violin swing good vibrations through the air, pulling heart strings and plucking stories of love, travel, and redemption. Southern feel got real, an all age crowd getting their folkie on.
To see Segarra and the Riff Raff crew now fully transformed from huckster railway small crowd fun to one of South Congress’ biggest unofficial parties seemed perfectly natural, as they pulled out those stomp clamp-diddy tricks from their beginnings and launched into the choral camaraderie of “The Body Electric,” nothing going wrong, as always:
On the surface “The Body Electric” does shine something perfectly happy-go-lucky heel-stomp, of which is a bit of the band’s bread-and-butter. But the beauty of Hurray For The Riff Raff, is that they layer their songs with some serious socio-political jabs the same, here lacing an homage to controversial rape case in India. To turn that negative energy into a positive “whole world” sing-along is a power that made this Austin day proud.