I’ve been a fan of RA since 2000. Back then, I was a 13 year old kid furthering my love for metal. I’d spend most of my summer days with one great friend of mine, scouring the internet for new bands on peer-to-peer sharing sites. One day, we stumbled upon RA’s “Do You Call My Name?”. The down tuned guitars, catchy chorus, and Sahaj Ticotin’s remarkable vocals drew us in immediately. I remember going to the Christiana Mall in Delaware with my mother and walking into a now extinct music store. I found a copy of From One on CD and rushed to the checkout counter with my allowance money. I remember the store employee making a remark that she was surprised I knew who they were and praised the album. I walked out of there anxious to get home and see what the rest of this record held in store. After one complete listen, I became a RA fan for life and have followed them to this day. Sahaj Ticotin (vocals/guitars) and Ben Carroll (guitars) even inspired me to start creating my own music.
On Monday night I made my way to THE LEGENDARY DOBB’S in Philadelphia for the show. I walked into the bar to see that it was JAM PACKED with RA fans. I had waited nearly 14 years to see them live. For years, they would play places I was unable to attend due to my age, or I would be stuck working, unable to take the night off. I had looked forward to this concert since it was announced, and was able to get in free of charge since I funded their Kickstarter campaign for Critical Mass a couple years back. As they prepared to take the stage, I worked my way right up front, just to the right of it.
The projector screen in front of the stage lifted, as all of the lights were out. The intro to From One’s “Sky” was strummed with Sahaj lightly singing over it. The band then fully kicked into the song, Sahaj’s voice soaring with the band like only RA does, delivering the first hit of their career spanning set. Next, the beginning riff to “Violator” slowly crept in. “Violator” is one of my all-time favorite RA tunes, so I was emphatically singing along up front with Sahaj and company. He even pointed me out with a nod of approval early in the song. That made my night. I was in the presence of a band of my heroes in a small venue. Nothing beats that. That put me on an instant high for the remainder of the show. Sahaj took a small break after the song and greeted the ecstatic Philly crowd. Up next was “Awake,” from their latest release, Critical Mass. Along with the entire crowd at THE LEGENDARY DOBB’S, I sang the song with RA. Come to think of it, there wasn’t a single song in their 12 song set that I wasn’t singing along with from start to finish.
“Broken Hearted Soul” from 2007’s Black Sun was next in line. With each passing song, the crowd seemed increasingly happy and excited. This is what true fans of a band do, and it was clear that everyone in the venue that Monday night was waiting for this moment for a long time. After this number, it appeared that Sahaj was having some technical issues with his in-ear monitor device. To this, Sahaj exclaimed “Ya know what? Fuck it! We’re going old school, baby!” and tossed the equipment to the side, ripping right into “The Only One.” With only the stage monitors for vocals, he didn’t miss a single note; keeping perfectly with bassist, P.J. Farley, and remaining in time with touring drummer (also SILENT CIVILIAN member), Zac Morris (yes, they made a Saved By the Bell joke). Up next was the second track from Duality, “Fallen Angels.” RA was absolutely killing it. Everywhere I looked, all I could see were smiling faces, banging heads, and bodies moving with the music.
They went back in time to their debut for “Rectifier.” The lyrics to this have always put me into deep thought. It is a song that beckons reflection and makes me ask myself if I’m making my world the way it’s supposed to be; how I want it, what’s right, and leaving the past in the past (relationship nightmares especially) while forging ahead. “Don’t Turn Away” was the eighth song on the list, followed by another Critical Mass bombshell, “Super Mega Dubstep.” If you haven’t heard this yet, it features some of the craziest sounds and rhythmic patterns I’ve ever heard come from a guitar. Seeing it live was outstanding! They didn’t miss a thing! After the high energy hit, Sahaj addressed the ladies in the crowd, letting them know this was the moment for them. They burst into their exceptional cover of THE POLICE’s “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”and everyone sang it loudly.
Next up was “Supernova,” Sahaj explaining that when they recorded this song in 2009, that was to be the end of RA. He told us that the song never got played live because he had made up the excuse of “it’s too hard to play live.” The reason for that was he did not want to see RA come to an end. “Supernova” was getting played tonight because this was their final tour. My first RA show was ultimately going to be my last. Damn. It’s a great thing I finally caught them, and embraced the night for all that it was. He reassured us that RA was not going to die, and there are five tracks that have not been released that were recorded during the Critical Mass sessions, and that RA music will still be written in the future. Citing being “old” and touring taking its physical toll on him, Sahaj explained that touring is being put to rest for the quartet. Ben was busy stringing and tuning up his guitar, so someone in the crowd yelled for a drum solo, to which Zac replied with a brief, yet impressive display before the show resumed and “Supernova” exploded with energy.
The closing song was what started it all for me: “Do You Call My Name?” Finally, I was going to hear what started my 14 years of fandom in a live setting. They played it with such high energy and passion. You could see why, through all of the struggles with record labels, RA had been kept alive. These musicians truly love what they do. Financial setbacks be damned, their dream never died and I have the utmost respect for them for doing so. Towards the final chorus of the track, Sahaj had the crowd repeat the lyrics he was saying, and then had us sing them back as an echo to his lead until the song’s end. It was an epic way to end their set and I couldn’t have been happier. They encouraged every fan to meet with them at their merch booth to say hello, get pictures, etc. Unfortunately, my phone completely died on me since I took photos during their set, and it was getting very late. I was able to snag a set list from the stage (as seen in the picture) and headed home. I walked out of DOBB’S that night smiling and I know this is a show that I will remember forever. My long-term fandom had finally come full circle.
In conclusion, to all of the guys in RA, if you are reading this, THANK YOU!!! Thank you for the years of great music, inspiration, and never giving up on this dream. 14 years into listening to you and it’ll never get old. I look forward to hearing new music in the future and hope that you will one day reconsider playing at least a handful of gigs again so I can try to get my live fix a second time. I can’t thank you guys enough! ~ETB
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ERIC THE BULL