Concert Preview: Ra Ra Riot Leads Fans Through The Orchard

Ra Ra Riot has come a long way since I first saw them perform in 2007 at moe.down festival near their home in upstate New York. And I’m wondering what will be in store for fans during their current tour.

Editorial Note: Part of this post first appeared as Ra Ra Riot on Daytrotter, New Album & Fall Tour Dates on Blogcritics.

Listening to this Daytrotter live session featuring Syracuse, New York indie-rock band Ra Ra Riot shot me back to a memorable moment when I first saw them live in 2007.  As a band with more of an indie-rock sensibility, they seemed out of place at a festival with a high count of jam-bands on the bill.

But during that moe.down show it quickly became obvious that the upstart group wasn’t distracted at all by their unlikely surroundings, nor were they going to hold back the emotional beauty and inspiration that fuels their music.

That moe.down show came just a few weeks after the death of their original drummer John Ryan Pike. And the tragic sadness felt by the band members in the wake of Pike’s death made that performance more than just a show. The band played with an urgent sincerity and a beautifully cathartic rawness that gripped my heart instantly. It was a strikingly upbeat yet extremely emotive brand of indie-rock and swiftly delivered orch-pop that drew me in with each passing note, chord and lyric.

The way the guitars, drums, violin and cello wrapped around lead singer Wes Miles’s enchanting vocals was palpable to say the least. As the band played, you could feel the surges of pain, sorrow and grief in the music as the band collectively channeled emotions they felt due to the loss of their friend.

It was one of those rare live music moments when you get to see a band at a pivotal turning point in the career, and you hope that they will continue to grow and share the magic with more fans.

Now, three years later — following the success of their debut LP The Rhumb Line in 2008 — the sextet is currently on tour unveiling their latest album The Orchard.

Fans should expect great things from Ra Ra Riot ‘s fall tour for many reasons. And one of those reason is because The Orchard retains everything that I love about the band’s ability to communicate and genuinely reflect love, pain, grief and loss we all experience at some point in our lives. And somehow they do it in a way that’s full of immense grace, maturity and uniqueness.

Track to track, the album is a sweeping and lush sonic portrait you can get lost in. It deftly captures the emotions we feel when someone close to us dies.

And in some ways, The Orchard listens like a timely and comforting letter written for those who are left behind to struggle with the pain, sorrow and sadness caused by the loss of a love one.

The Orchard is not as “upbeat” as the Rhumb Line per se, nonetheless, the band mixes in just enough rhythmically joyful moments to balance things out. Which means that The Orchard does call for more thinking and reflection from the listener. But either way you approach it, the album gets more gorgeous each time you listen to it.

How Will The Orchard Come To Life Live?
I’ll always remember how I felt during that moe.down show in 2007. And now that Ra Ra Riot’s fan-base has grown, and the live crowds have gotten larger, I’m excited to see what the emotional vibe will be like at Metro tonight in Chicago as the band takes us through The Orchard in a live setting. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook as we do another Live Fix Experiment during the show.

Ra Ra Riot Redefines A Concert
The video above is from the Blogotheque series which we’ve explored before. And like my moe.down experience, I’ll be thinking about Ra Ra Riot’s Blogotheque redefined what a concert is, too.

Start A Riot
I’m sure you have an experience to share, so we invite you to tell your Ra Ra Riot story and share your favorite concert experiences in the comments below. You can check out more exclusive Live Fix fan interviews here.

For a complete list of tour dates visit Ra Ra Riot’s website.

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