Local Wire

Ra Ra Riot @ Clubhouse

Syracuse is famed for a few things: basketball, the college that has the basketball, and, according to my viewing of a Syracuse-based episode of Man vs. Food, hearty American grub. Those pop-rockers with a hint of chamber, Ra Ra Riot, formed there, too, and took off during the East Coast prep-wave unleashed by Vampire Weekend. Lumped into the same brainy, eclectic, made-up genre, and having a collaborative side project called Discovery (involving members from both bands), it's difficult not to compare the two. Both Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend released sophomore full-length albums this year, The Orchard and Contra, respectively. The latter has had a heck of a lot more traction. Perhaps it's because Ra Ra Riot decided this time around to do something different, with a pointedly more expansive and less energetic album. It's not necessarily a bad move, but doesn't guarantee über-success. Or maybe their name is too hard to inject into conversations, leaving fans unable to do valuable word-of-mouthing because they feel like that guy in the Got Milk ad whose mouth is filled with peanut butter. (Aaron Burr, anyone?) I'm not sure, but I welcome other theories regarding the diaspora.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski