Hurray For The Riff Raff at The Fillmore, by Robert Alleyne
Hurray for the Riff Raff (photo: Robert Alleyne)

Alynda Segarra's been screaming for revolution since way before it was cool.

On Sunday night, Segarra and her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, led a full house at the Fillmore through an evening of stellar songwriting and rock and roll spectacle, all in the name of social change.

"This is resistance music," she said early in the set, to wild applause from the crowd. Though Hurray for the Riff Raff's work has always had a political edge, on their latest record, The Navigator, they go all in. A semi-autobiographical work that's just short of being a concept album, The Navigator features a string of songs about project life and social injustice, told from the point of view of a central character. The robust, almost overwhelming, bluegrass overtones of past works are almost totally traded for Latin rhythms, straight-ahead strumming, and stark piano ballads; even some radio-friendly pop. It's a departure, but for Segarra, it seems necessary.

Having ditched her former Nudie-suited self for a slinky '70s vibe, Segarra stalked around the stage, eyes occasionally flashing upward with an animal rage. Born in the Bronx to immigrant parents, Segarra's never been quiet about the discrimination she's faced personally, and the inequity that's faced her friends, neighbors, and family. But now, faced with an administration that's not even trying to hide their prejudice, she's out for blood. As the band ripped through raw, searing versions of highlights from the new record like "Hungry Ghost" and "Pa'alante," Segarra wove in commentary on the current political climate. A large banner in the back declared "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" in bold type.

But everyone, it seems, has their limits. Though early talk of resistance and revolution was met with cheers, there was a markedly quieter response for mentions of immigration and the disenfranchisement of people of color — quieter still when she emerged for the encore in a Kaepernick jersey. Everyone's on board with the revolution until you start making specific demands.

Tags: