Ra Ra Riot is different. It’s not just their sound, which, as we were reminded at Union Transfer on Thursday, has shifted from sunny, string-centric e.e. cummings references to techno interpretations of technological singularity. There is that shift, but on a more basic level, the band itself has changed.
When Ra Ra Riot formed in 2006, the six founding members were still in college. Mathieu Santos, Wes Miles, Milo Bonacci, Rebecca Zeller, Alexandra Lawn and John Ryan Pike garnered critical attention within six months of coming together. The group was already touring the country by 2007, with South by Southwest and CMJ under its belt, when tragedy struck. Drummer John Ryan Pike was found dead after a show in Providence. His death rattled the group, who decided to continue making music, but released “Dying Is Fine” shortly after. It is a dark piece of baroque pop which essentially functions as an adaptation of e.e. cummings’ poem “dying is fine)but Death.” The song’s instant popularity became the group’s calling card – its catharsis closed most songs on their tour behind 2008’s The Rhumb Line – and their reputation for sugar-coated somber intellectualism was sealed. Continue reading →