Ra Ra Riot returned to upstate New York’s Syracuse University (where they first formed in 2006) earlier this month to teach classes and play a sold-out show, Billboard reports. The group is currently at work on Beta Love, the follow-up to 2010’s The Orchard, and showcased four of the LP’s new songs at the school’s 660-capacity Setnor Auditorium. Those include the synthy title track, plus “I Shut Off,” “For Once,” and “Binary Mind” (which is maybe the second clip embedded below).
Every member of the five-piece crew played teacher during a week-long residency put on by the university’s Bandier Program. Vocalist/keyboardist Wes Miles led courses on songwriting; guitarist Milo Bonacci, bassist Mathieu Santos, and violinist Rebecca Zeller hosted composition workshops. Bonacci gave guitar instruction, as did drummer Kenny Bernard for percussion. Zeller and cellist Clarice Jensen addressed classical techniques in contemporary pop music. Ra Ra Riot manager Josh Roth partnered with Zeller to examine how a band grows on tour. Even RRR’s sound engineer, Andrew Maury, hosted two classes on his work in the recording studio.
“We more than achieved our learning goals through the eight residency classes,” said David Rezak, the director of the Bandier Program. “The members of Ra Ra Riot, as well as manager Josh Roth and sound engineer Andrew Maury, had so much to share with the students after six years of touring, recording and brand-polishing.”
“Once we got over the initial butterflies, we all had a blast in our individual classes, and were really impressed by the students’ response,” Zeller told Billboard. “Coming back and playing Setnor Auditorium was pretty special for me, especially because that’s where all my orchestra concerts and recitals were held. While in school we never had any contemporary bands in Setnor, so being the first to fill that role in over 30 years was pretty special.” The violinist added, “I think we all have new post-band plans of becoming professors.”
Ra Ra Riot at Syracuse University’s Setnor Auditorium (11/14/12) set list:
“St Peter’s Day Festival”
“Run My Mouth”
“Too Too Too Fast”
“Can You Tell”
“Ghost Under Rocks”
“I Shut Off”
“Dying is Fine”