Like His Rhymes, Riff Raff’s Live Show Is a Little Off

House of Blues, May 9


Photo by Wayne Posner

Riff Raff’s authenticity as a rapper and sane, intelligible human being is debatable. The Diplo-endorsed absurdist walks a fine line between being an offensive rap parody and a comic genius with mild mental issues. His Neon Icon tour stop did little to sway me in either direction.

The Houston rapper—who might be moving to Las Vegas(!)—was less concerned about his actual performance than he was about creating the right ambiance.

Neon strobe lights? Check.

Beach balls and inflatables? Check.

Twerking bikini-clad dancers who carry giant cutouts of Katy Perry, Riff Raff and Riff Raff’s dog, Jody Husky? Check.

Instrumentals for Riff Raff to rap over? Oops.

While rapping over your own vocal tracks is a sloppy move, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Riff rifled through a 45-minute set, debuting new material—including a punk-influenced song with the hook: We were up all night on cocaine—before leaving the stage abruptly. Highlights included the selfie-encouraging “Instagram,” bouncy banger “Dolce & Gabanna” and “Raiders vs. Hawks” (sample lyric: I did a lot of drugs but I’m not a dope fiend/Maybe I am …/Pontiac Trans Am, my wrist Toucan Sam). The man is entertaining, but I’ll stick to watching him on YouTube. ★★✩✩✩

Photos by Wayne Posner