The last time I saw RAC was actually at one of School of Rock Portland’s Best of Portland shows. There, André Allen Anjos got up on stage with some talented kids and together they played his song “Let Go.” Though the man was there, playing one of his project’s songs, it really didn’t compare to seeing the spectacle that is RAC itself.
This year’s Thanksgiving weekend kicked off with a return home for Anjos, who, along with a backing band featuring Karl Kling (also the night's opener), Pink Feathers on keys and Jeffrey Brodsky behind the kit (also YACHT's drummer), played the Crystal Ballroom the night before the holiday. The crowd was ecstatic to see the headlining performance, but there were many fans in the crowd who were equally excited for the night’s middle act: Big Data.
Although Big Data were advertised as an opener, the set time and production together showed them in more of a co-headliner light. With images projected on a screen behind them, a computerized voice talking us through the set, and robot-like dance moves provided by the band, it was easy to tell Big Data had grown since their December to Remember set last year.
By the time RAC took the stage, devoted hometown fans packed the ballroom. I remembered seeing RAC share the stage with School of Rock: It was one song, a small stage. No production, maybe 600 in the audience. Now, huge lighting rigs provided a backdrop for the set. A crowd of 1,600 filled the ballroom.
The band started with a cover of Joywave's “Tongues.” This was interesting to me, as Big Data had just ended their set with “Dangerous”—a song that also features Joywave. Perhaps it was a coincidence, or perhaps it was intentional, meant to connect the two acts.
RAC brought the party to the Crystal right off the bat. With amazing lighting and a full stage for the band to roam, Anjos and crew got the entire crowd involved in the music—dancing and singing along, especially with songs “Let Go,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” and a cover of ODESZA's “Say My Name”—listen to RAC's remix below for which Anjos was nominated for a Grammy.
“Portland,” they said during a pause in the set, “it’s so good to be home.”
The Crystal Ballroom and the local crowd were ecstatic our band was back. RAC have made a place for themselves out in the world, but the venues of Portland will always be home.