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A Welcome Return

Indie pop quintet Ra Ra Riot treats Spokane fans with a late-added tour stop


Ra Ra Riot returns to Spokane after a seven-year absence. - NICOLE BUSCH
  • Nicole Busch
  • Ra Ra Riot returns to Spokane after a seven-year absence.

Ra Ra Riot gets a brief break this weekend from their ongoing tour with California rock band Young the Giant. They could have taken that time to relax, but instead they're coming to Spokane. And Saturday night's Bartlett stop was announced late for the Brooklyn-based group's summer/fall tour promoting Need Your Light, their acclaimed fourth studio album released in February.

"We're going to be on our own for a few days, and time on the road you're not playing, you're losing money," says frontman Wes Miles from a hotel parking lot in L.A. last week. "It just kind of worked out that we had that day, and we hadn't been to Spokane in a good enough time."

Indeed, it's been seven years since Ra Ra Riot was in the Lilac City. They last played here as part of a triple-threat tour with Death Cab for Cutie and Cold War Kids at Gonzaga University's McCarthey Athletic Center. A lot has changed since then for indie pop/rock quintet, which is now celebrating its 10th year.

For one, Ra Ra Riot's sound has greatly evolved from those early, breakout days when the band was often solely categorized as baroque pop; their debut record The Rhumb Line was slower-tempoed and heavier with strings. Compare that to this year's Need Your Light, an upbeat and uplifting collection filled with soaring choruses that superbly showcase Miles' honed falsetto vocals (see "Water," "I Need Your Light," and "Bad Times"). The strings by violinist Rebecca Zeller are still ever present; harmoniously uniting with synthesizer beats.

"The best feeling about [this tour] is that we have a couple songs we close the show with — for the longest time we were closing with old songs," Miles says. "But now we have songs that are so much more powerful and fun for us to play, too. And I think people can really tell."

While Ra Ra Riot recently played Austin City Limits, and has headlined plenty of its own tours over the years, Miles says the current route with Young the Giant has surprisingly introduced a new fanbase.

"A lot of people on this tour have been telling us — a disproportionate amount — 'Oh, you guys are gonna be huge!' or 'We can say we saw them back then!' but we've been around for 10 years," he says, laughing. "People think we're a baby band, and that's totally fine. It's cool in the sense that it's a new fan, or someone who didn't know about us before." ♦

Ra Ra Riot with Mama Doll • Sat, Oct. 29, at 8 pm • $22 • All-ages • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague • • 747-2174