Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff at SOhO on May 13, 2023 | Credit: Rebecca Horrigan

On a foggy Saturday evening, Alynda Segarra, frontwoman for the indie folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff, lit a spark in the Santa Barbara night, illuminating the small SOhO audience with her warmth and passion. Typically joined by a full band, Segarra’s power was undiminished by the fact that it was just her and a few guitars lit by the disco ball’s glow. One might argue her perfectly pitched and vehement vocals hit harder, undiluted by other sounds. Segarra’s set began with numbers both old and new, including the spirited “Look Out Mama”; the jaunty, harmonica-laden “End of the Line”; and freshly penned numbers so catchy I longed for an immediate option to save them on Spotify.

Segarra wasted no time engaging in refreshingly honest banter with the audience. On Mother’s Day eve, she empathized with those struggling with the holiday and opened up about her own challenging relationship with her mother. The banter felt universal as she explained how part of her songwriting process is fueled by the need to “create this image of yourself outside of the worst things that have ever happened to you.” These words aptly ushered in the propulsive hit “SAGA,” which unites listeners who’ve ever gone through hardship (so…everyone?) with the chorus, which unyieldingly repeats the words, “I don’t want this to be the saga of my life.”

The audience silently swayed and let the sharp lyricism and enigmatic performance pierce them in the best ways. Other highlights included the rocking “RHODODENDRON” and an anthem for big-city survival, “Livin’ in the City.” Segarra ended with a cover of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.” After all of the intent listening, the audience unleashed whatever pent-up energy they had in an impassioned singalong to the rarely covered ’90s anthem. God, energy, spirit, music — whatever you want to call it — Segarra’s set was imbued with a divine force and uplifting power.


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