Hurray for the Riff Raff
Show: With Ron Gallo on Sunday at 9:30 Club. Doors open at 7 p.m.
202-265-0930. 930.com. $20.
When Hurray for the Riff Raff put together their most recent studio effort, “The Navigator,” they didn’t just make a concept album. They built — and promptly destroyed — an entire city that looks and sounds like a New York that has finally succumbed to gentrification. In this invented metropolis, skyrocketing rents have bludgeoned locals into hopelessness, leaving them displaced and dispossessed.
The album’s dystopian narrative revolves around Navita Milagros Negrón, a fictitious girl who jumps at the chance to leave home, only to return and realize that her community has disappeared forever. Navita functions as a proxy for Hurray for the Riff Raff’s frontwoman, Alynda Lee Segarra, herself an ambling, Bronx-born wanderer. She crisscrossed the country, settling in New Orleans and Nashville before growing homesick for her New York and Puerto Rican roots.
On “The Navigator,” Segarra is not just reconnecting with the places she’s left behind; she’s also preserving and defending her Nuyorican communities and culture. Segarra, whose folksy talents are of a solemn Patti Smith variety, experiments with sounds of the Puerto Rican diaspora here, brandishing congas and bomba rhythms like weapons against erasure. The result is a style of eclectic Americana that reflects the country in all its multitudes.