Ra Ra Riot gave Barsuk Records something to smile about with their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The Ra Ras consist of the usual suspects plus a cellist and a violinist. Their lead singer, Wes Miles, has one of the most beautiful voices on the indie scene. They occupied the indoor stage with force and charm while singing “Too Dramatic” and “Boy.”
Because they hit Jimmy Kimmel and performing in Santa Barbara, there was a brief glimmer of hope that they might be announced for a second Coachella appearance, however it wasn’t meant to be. (Darn!)
The Ra Ras are also known on the indie circuit for their rotating drummer slot. Their second drummer, Gabriel Duquette, moves on after the Jimmy Kimmel Live concert ostensibly to give drum lessons in West Hartford, CT. He left an affectionate note to all which Ra Ra Riot published on their website. One of his fondest memories? “Beyonce and Jay-Z in the audience at Cochella.” (Coachella 2010) Having watched Ra Ra Riot perform a few times, Duquette is an excellent drummer. Their third drummer will be Kenny Barnard who will pick up the rest of their tour.
Their orginal drummer, John Pike, drowned in 2007. They wrote and dedicated the song “Dying is Fine” to him. Until Myspace’s format change, they had a dedication next to their bad photo, “we will always love and miss you, John.” They now continue to list him as a band member, “John Pike: co-writer / lyricist / vocalist, drummer, and lifelong inspiration.”
Barsuk Records also provides an indie label home to Phantogram who will appear at Coachella 2011, Maps & Atlases, The Globes, and Menomena; as well as KROQ favorites Nada Surf, and Death Cab For Cutie. It’s also the home of Dismemberment Plan’s comeback. Menomena’s Brent Knopf leaving the band to work on his solo project (Ramona Falls) and producing friends Matt Sheehy and the South African band Dear Reader has been a cause for freaking out.
Don’t fret, little Barky. The Ra Ras are a spot of sunshine chamber pop on a cloudy day. Someday, maybe they’ll be the pot ‘o gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s nearly impossible to be sad while listening to their music.
Glumly enough, I was getting into an accident instead of enjoying Ra Ra Riot recording their set for Jimmy Kimmel, but these things happen (#IHateLA #IHateTraffic). Still, after their set via late night, I feel a little better. They always give a smile for their determination to continue despite tragedy, for their upbeat music, and original style.
They’ve often been connected to Vampire Weekend which formed at Columbia University. Ra Ra Riot formed at Syracuse University in upstate New York. What’s the connection? Rostam Batmangij of Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles are childhood friends.
The LA Rock Examiner tries to follow Ra Ra Riot when she can at www.RaRaRiot.com. If you missed their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, look for it on Jimmy’s YouTube channel www. They have also appeared locally on KCRW.