The crowd, speckled with crisp flannel and soft floral, danced under the disco lights of the Rickshaw Stop on June 29 to a lineup of bands that rocked from beginning to end. Wowing with their captivating stage presence and catchy songs, indie pop groups Silent Rival, courtship. and Night Riots were met with screaming fans and deafening cheers.
Silent Rival, the opener, delivered a punchy set. Vocalist Sara Coda, a pop emo goddess, belted her edgy lyrics in a rich, expressive voice that shook the entire room. She started off the night singing “Paranoid,” which features a galloping sort of speak-singing. The audience swayed casually until Coda launched into the chorus and, for a moment, the entire room paused, save for the splashes of light from the disco ball. Sonorous and enchanting, her voice carried deep emotion while boasting an impressive range.
An enthusiastic fan commended her vocals, saying: “The first time I saw (her), she started singing, and I was like, ‘Oh my God! Who are you, and how the fuck did that come out of your mouth?’ ”
Her stage presence was supernatural. Dancing, she moved like the music flowed through her body. Her long, dark hair gleamed in the spectrum of lights. She tossed her head, her face often lost in the sea of brown locks. Deep passion and incredible strength emanated from her, and feeling poured into her voice: hurt and pain, but also healing and rising. Coda captivated the audience at the Rickshaw Stop, holding the crowd’s attention with every passionate syllable.
“Who I am onstage is very real; it’s different than who I am offstage,” Coda said. “I’m a lot more vulnerable in real life, and I’m a lot more kickass and fuck-you onstage.”
Until Coda performed “Burn,” a few people were swaying, some moving their heads, but the audience seemed nervous, self-conscious — the bougie drinks in their hands had not yet loosened them up. But in the middle of the song, there was a breakdown. She dared the crowd to dance, clap and sing, handing out T-shirts as a reward. Pointing then throwing, she hurled them into the crowd; a few drinks spilled, but nobody noticed in the excitement. As if permission had finally been granted, the audience members began to dance, grooving and daring to make fools of themselves. Coda wanted people to have the freedom to be themselves, to be totally weird or totally normal with no shame.
“I don’t want to be another place where people need to subscribe to any school of thought,” Coda said.
And Coda definitely embodies her own philosophy. She is a badass, a bit edgy, a bit angsty and carrying undeniable talent. Silent Rival isn’t reinventing the wheel with its music, but every song is unique and artful. Flippant observations of the world, heated heartbreak and spiritual exploration can all be found in Silent Rival’s musical repertoire.
“Take what you need from (my music), and if all you need is to sing in your car, that’s awesome, and if it heals you from some deep trauma, I’m really happy about that,” Coda said.
The band’s songs feature themes of rebirth, empowerment and examining the beauty of the world, Coda said. “I think the thing that informs the writing and performances the most is that I’m somebody who wears her heart on her sleeve,” she said.
Throughout the night, it was evident that Coda had a sensitivity that made her performance so authentic and magnetic. Her innate talent for performing was mirrored in both courtship.’s modern disco and Night Riots’ alt-rock. Headlining, Night Riots put on an incredible performance, the second to last of its national tour. With an air of theatrics, the band played a high-energy set that matched the fervor of Silent Rivals. But it was Silent Rivals that stole the show with an incredible performance that delivered on every level.