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Ra Ra Riot to bring energy to Columbus stage

Courtesy of Samantha Tillman


A&R Music Bar is a change from the beer-soaked carpet and red Solo cups that painted Ra Ra Riot’s beginning as house party entertainment. 

“When the band started we spent a lot of time playing at house parties and places where we had a lot of competition for people’s attention, and I think that sort of carried over into the more recent years of the band,” said vocalist Wes Miles.  

Ra Ra Riot is scheduled to play at A&R Music Bar Thursday at 7 p.m. 

The band out of Syracuse, N.Y., has taken a few lessons in competing for attention from its house party days. 

“We are really trying to make (the band’s music) high energy and interact with the fans a lot,” Miles said.

With that higher energy has come more fans and a bigger venue than Ra Ra Riot’s previous performances in Columbus. The band has played in Columbus before at The Basement, which holds about 300 people.

Marissa Luther, marketing director for PromoWest Productions, said A&R Music Bar holds about 400 people. She said booking is based on the size and popularity of the band. 

“Ticket sales are strong, so I think people are excited about it,” Luther said. 

Miles agreed that the bigger venue is good news. 

“It feels like we are making some serious progress,” he said. 

The indie rock band released its third studio album, “Beta Love,” on Jan. 22, and has been touring to promote it since its release. 

Miles said “Beta Love” was a step away from the band’s usual work, which is known for heavily incorporating string instruments. 

“There are a few songs without any strings on them which I don’t think we’ve ever done before,” he said. “There was this deliberate choice to not have that.”

He said expanding the band’s horizons was important to its members.

“It was starting to feel like it was limiting our possibilities,” Miles said. “It kind of handcuffed us rather than letting us do what we wanted.”

Not only is the album a departure from the band’s usual style, but it was recorded differently as well. Miles said the different sound in “Beta Love” stems from recording in the summer as well as recording with Dennis Herring, who has produced with both Modest Mouse and Elvis Costello.

“(Herring) was a hands-on producer,” Miles said. “He also pushed us each individually to make our best work.”

The band’s previous two albums, “The Rhumb Line” and “The Orchard,” were both recorded in the middle of winter. 

“It’s a really different vibe to be recording in the summertime, and I think that affected the record a lot,” Miles said. 

He said he thought “Beta Love” displayed his best vocals yet. 

Spoonful Records owner, Brett Ruland, said although the band’s earlier albums were sold at Spoonful Records, the newest album is still not available in the store located at 116 E. Long St. 

“They sell but they don’t sell like the other (bands),” Ruland said. He said he would try to get the album in before the show on Thursday. 

But Ra Ra Riot’s performances are different than its recorded music, and Miles said he thought the band’s shows were among its strongest assets. 

“One of our biggest strengths as a band is our live show, because we have a lot of energy,” Miles said. “We play loud.”

Tickets are available for $15 through Ticketmaster. 

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