Ra Ra Riot
are on an alluring career trajectory. The band has gone from small-town favorites to big stage stars, and their recent swing through our city for four nights at both The Bowery Ballroom and The Music Hall of Williamsburg seemed the perfect time to capture their ascent.
Starting off as contemporaries to bands like Vampire Weekend, Ra Ra Riot has been something of a slow burner, choosing to develop and nurture a sound rather than cashing in on one, quick aesthetic. Following the release of their polished, Chris Walla produced sophomore album The Orchard
, the band now find themselves at a point of promise. The intricacies of their arrangements rival many of the so-called art-rockers, with heaps more accessibility. While The Orchard
dropped hooks for heady, reverberated decorations, the ornate finish provides a complimentary side to a band still building its foundation.
There is nowhere to go but up, and this concert video captured at The Music Hall of Williamsburg this past September provides the proof.
Combining indie rock with chamber pop flourishes (courtesy of a small string section), Ra Ra Riot formed while the band's six members were attending college in Syracuse, NY. Milo Bonacci (guitar), Alexandra Lawn (cello), Wesley Miles (keyboard/vocals), John Pike (drums), Mathieu Santos (bass), and Rebecca Zeller (violin) first came together in January 2006, creating an eclectic sound that allowed them to play alongside the Horrors, Bow Wow Wow, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin within a year of the band's formation. After pulling up stakes and relocating to New York City, the band recorded a self-titled EP and prepared to release it during the summer of 2007. That June, however, Pike died after disappearing one night from a party in Fairhaven, RI. His body was later found in nearby Buzzard's Bay. Several weeks later, the mourning bandmates issued a statement confirming their continuation as a band.
Ra Ra Riot joined the roster at V2 Records later that year before switching their American operations to Barsuk Records, who signed them in May 2008 and released their debut album, The Rhumb Line, in August. Reviews were positive, and Ra Ra Riot spent the better part of a year on the road, where they toured with bands like Death Cab for Cutie and headlined their own performances as well. During a lull in their schedule, the musicians decamped to a peach orchard in upstate New York, where they spent several weeks writing songs and recording demos. Those songs eventually made their way onto The Orchard, Ra Ra Riot's second album, which appeared in August 2010.