Check out Ra Ra Riot’s new “Foreign Lovers” lyric video before their Free At Noon this Friday

Ra Ra Riot | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist
Ra Ra Riot | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Syracuse indie-pop band Ra Ra Riot have released a lyric video for their new single, “Foreign Lovers.”

“Foreign Lovers” is a quick two minute piece of synth pop from their up-coming 4th record, Need Your Light. The band seems to be continuing the electronic direction they took with their last LP, Beta Love, trading in their string instruments for synthesizers. Behind neon lights, Vocalist Wes Miles sings, “I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before,” an ode that speaks of both confusion and nostalgia. Continue reading →


Watch Ra Ra Riot take a surreal trip to a colorful planet on their new “Binary Mind” video (playing TLA 10/10)

rarariot Syracuse indie rockers Ra Ra Riot released their third album, Beta Love, back in January of this year. The group has just released a video for their latest single “Binary Mind.” The snappy, fast-paced electronic rock song’s video features distorted cartoons of the band, floating head shots, a spaceship that grows an eyeball and a ton of weird and very colorful imagery. Director Cole Hannan told NPR Music: “I ended up wanting to make a story about a planet being created, life on that planet popping up, that life assimilating with computers, and that new human-computer hybrid being able to, in a sense, meet it’s maker.” Check out the video below. The band performs at the TLA on Thursday, October 10th.


Ra Ra Riot announce fall tour dates and a remix of “Angel, Please” (playing TLA 10/10)

ra ra riot

Indie pop-rock outfit Ra Ra Riot is hitting the road again, promoting their new synth-y album Beta Love, which was released in January. They’ve been touring  a lot recently, opening for The Postal Service. Formed at Syracuse University in 2006, the band will return to Philly on October 10th with a show at the TLA. Tickets and information can be found here. Meanwhile, check out a remix of their song “Angel, Please” by Little Daylight. Good Stuff.


Review: The ever-evolving Ra Ra Riot plays Union Transfer

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 →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Guards open for Ra Ra Riot at Union Transfer, Katie Frank at Tin Angel, Joe D’Amico at Kung Fu Necktie, Femi Kuti at World Cafe Live

Photo by Olivia Malone

As if Ra Ra Riot isn’t already a solid reason to head to Union Transfer tonight, Richie Follin gives you another in a word: Guards. The younger brother of Cults’ Madeline Follin, Richie is equally talented and just as interested in the retro-pop sound that made his sister’s band so critically successful. Listening to Richie’s Guards EP from 2009 and the singles from his upcoming debut album, In Guards We Trust, it’s not surprising that Richie has played guitar for Cults when the duo toured. His music is distinct from his sister’s band, though, especially on the new album, even if his hair cut is …exactly like hers. Catch his polished, dark-tinged pop project when he opens for Ra Ra Riot. Tickets and information for the all ages show are available here. Below, watch Follin’s band in their new music video for the track “Silver Lining,” via

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Listen to Ra Ra Riot’s new song “When I Dream” (playing Union Transfer on 1/24)

Ra Ra Riot
Indie pop faves Ra Ra Riot just played Lancaster’s Chameleon Club this past weekend, and are making their way down to Philadelphia proper for a show at Union Transfer on January 24th – two days after their new album Beta Love is released on Barsuk Records. Today the band released a new track from the album – a hushed, snappy, and smooth tune called “When I Dream.” Listen to it in the Soundcloud player below. Ra Ra Riot also joined us for the 2011 XPoNential Music Festival; you can listen to their set in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player). You can also hear their backstage interview with Mike Vasilikos here.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Japandroids at Union Transfer, Maxi Priest at The Keswick Theatre, The Best of Joey Sweeney at Johnny Brenda’s, Work Drugs with Shark Tape at Ortlieb’s, XPN Welcomes Ra Ra Riot at The Chameleon Club

Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids shook the walls at their midsummer Johnny Brenda’s show and tonight they’ll shake the walls of Union Transfer.  Japandroids are touring in support of an album many consider to be one of the year’s best (here, here and here).  The punk rockers released Celebration Rock earlier this year and were subsequently named Band of the Year by Spin, with their song “The House That Heaven Built” being named Song of the Summer by Paste.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with DIIV can be found here.  Below, watch the video for “The House That Heaven Built.”

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Photo Recap: XPoNential Music Festival Day 3 (Emmylou Harris, Ben Folds, Carbon Leaf, Shemekia Copeland, + more)

For photos (and audio + video) of local artists performing at this year’s XPoNential Music Festival—including Clap Your Hands Say YeahJukebox The GhostSun AirwayMatt DukeKuf KnotzNicos Gun, and more—take a look at our Local Spotlight posts.


XPoNential Music Festival Artist Interview: Ra Ra Riot’s Alexandra Lawn

Ra Ra Riot has survived a lot since forming at Syracuse University in 2006. Early on, the band weathered the sudden death of John Pike, the drummer and an integral part of Ra Ra Riot’s songwriting team. Despite the tragedy, RRR (as they’re known to fans) soldiered on to record a stunning follow-up their 2008 debut The Rhumb Line. Written in a peach orchard—far from the noise and chaos of city life—The Orchard is a quieter take on their soaring orchestral pop that manages to preserve the immediacy and urgency of their debut. Prior to Ra Ra Riot’s performance at XPoNential Music Festival (at 2:10 p.m. Sunday, July 24th), The Key spoke to cellist Alexandra Lawn about playing a stringed instrument in an indie-rock band, the perils of performing at house parties, and Chekhov.

The Key: What is it like being a string player in an indie-rock band? How did you have to adapt your playing style?

Alexandra Lawn: It was definitely different at first, being in a band and not doing typically what we do with our instruments. Becca and I were both classically trained up until the band started and a lot of that is reading music that is put in front of you. The creative interpretation that you’re allowed to put in can only go so far. To be in the kind of environment where you write a part was very different, and unique to us. So we were really excited to be put up to that. It took a while to get used to it, but definitely opened up doors and musically was awesome for both of us.

TK: How is Ra Ra Riot different from other indie bands that have string players?

AL: When we write songs we tend to incorporate the violin and cello like any other instrument in a typical rock band. They have a part, depending on the song, something can be arranged around them or they can be arranged around something else. But they’re never added as a post-production kind of thing.

TK: So the strings are an integral part of the band as opposed to just an add-on.

AL: Yeah, they’re another voice that’s part of the band.

TK: Ra Ra Riot started out playing house parties. How is that particular environment a challenge for a string player?

AL: That was when we figured out that we couldn’t really play our good instruments. It gets a little too raucous. That’s actually what led us to playing electric instruments and experimenting with that kind of thing.

TK: Do you play electric instruments on the records?

AL: No, we play our real instruments on the records. Becca plays an acoustic violin that has a pickup and I play an electric cello.

Continue reading →


XPoNential Music Festival lineup announced! Headliners include Ben Folds, Booker T., Ted Leo

This just in: A partial lineup for 2011 XPoNential Music Festival—WXPN and Camden County Board Of Freeholders’ annual three-day festival (running from Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24, at Wiggins Park on the Camden Waterfront)—has been announced. So far, the confirmed list of performing acts includes Ben Folds, Booker T., Shemekia Copeland, North Mississippi Allstars Duo, Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, Hayes Carll, Ra Ra Riot, Carbon Leaf, and Jukebox The Ghost; local acts include Susan Werner, Sun Airway, Johnny Miles And The Waywards, David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket, Nicos Gun, Hezekiah Jones, Andrew Lipke, Matt Duke, Kuf Knotz, and Kingsfoil.

Tickets to the XPoNential Music Festival are available now for members only, and start at less than $12 a day (for a three-day pass purchased in advance). Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 16th. Go to’s support page (or call 1-800-565-WXPN) to become a member; if you pledge $24 per month, you’ll receive a pair of weekend passes, two festival t-shirts, and an XPN membership that gets you free beverages and artist meet-and-greets all weekend long.