Countless bands have formed with the members met in college, so it would only make sense to take a peek at the college music scene to see potential talent.  On Saturday, Oct 13, at the Stony Brook Union Ballroom, students got to spend their time with free performances from Ra Ra Riot, Tiny Victories and Fantasy Rainbow.

Ra Ra Riot is an indie rock band consisting of five former Syracuse University students: vocalist Wes Miles, bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci, violinist Rebecca Zeller and drummer Kenny Bernard. Formed in 2006, they originally envisioned playing energetic rock music at friends’ house parties, but then Wes convinced Milo to quit his job at a prestigious architecture firm to pursue making music full time. Ra Ra Riot have since gathered enough attention to appear alongside other renowned artists at concerts such as the CMJ Music Marathon; Lollapalooza; Firefly; and have embarked on Japanese, English and North American tours. The band won the Best Music Video Award at the Finger Lakes Film Festival with its song “Can You Tell,” and its other songs, like “Boy” and “Too Dramatic” have been given the remix treatment by acts like RAC and The Morning Benders.

Miles has a long relation with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig dating back to their time in middle school together. Traces of influence from Death Cab For Cutie and Vampire Weekend are evident—through Chris Walla and Rostam Batmanglij, respectively—as they helped mix some of the tracks. Ra Ra Riot’s newest offering, 2010’s “The Orchard,” is the brainchild of a month-long stay at a farmhouse during the height of peach season.

While listening to the album, it’s easy to taste the deliciousness of the ripe fruit and hear the ringing of cicadas. On “The Orchard,” listeners find that string instruments associated with classical music form the perfect accompaniment for the rocking riffs of electric guitars.


Do not be deceived by their name; Brooklyn-based duo Tiny Victories, described by WNYC Soundcheck’s John Schaefer as, “full of smart, catchy electro-pop hooks with subversive production details to keep listeners guessing,” has become one of the bands to watch in 2012. Since the release of their debut EP, “Those of Us Still Alive,” Tiny Victories has shared bills with The Hood Internet and won tickets to SXSW Conferences and Festivals.

At Saturday’s Stony Brooklyn showcase, Tiny Victories paved the way for the night’s headliners, asking the audience, “Are you ready for some Ra Ra Riot?” to great cheer from the crowd. The band’s set climaxed with its most famous song, “Mr. Bones,” which boasts hypnotizing chimes, xylophones like amplified dewdrops and drums full of momentum.

Formed just last year, this British ensemble’s sound embodies a smoky elusiveness that is hard to define. Perhaps that is precisely the magic of indie rock, an independent attitude that leaves plenty of room to freely explore different sounds.

Oliver Catt from Fantasy Rainbow, gladly accepted to an interview after the show:


The Statesman: Hi Oliver, I think you have the coolest last name by the way.

Oliver Catt: Cause it’s Catt, right?

TS: So, what was your major in college?

OC: I was a politics major for a semester, then I dropped out. I’m 19. I would like to go back though, for forestry, you know, cutting down trees. I came from a very small village out of town, it’s all fields.

TS: There is a quote on your Tumblr page, “I am no rainbow, I am the man amongst us, you are the people, and we are together.”


OC: *chuckles* Ah, I posted that two weeks ago. It was just nonsense, my flatmate said that. It’s very cool you brought that up. I’d let him know, it will make him really happy.

TS: So the band name came up first. What does Fantasy Rainbow represent to you?

OC: It was just the funniest thing I can think of out of the long list in my bedroom.

TS: How is it different performing at a public venue versus at a college? Best part about it?

OC: This is my first time performing at a college. People are so much nicer, and happier. In the public, there were a lot of self-talk. I’d prefer to perform in a more private setting. The city is very exciting, but it gets overwhelming sometimes. I like the countryside better. You can tell I’m a pretty nervous person and I just want to relax as much as possible.

TS: I know you guys will be playing at the CMJ this upcoming week; That’s very exciting! Where else do you plan on heading in the future?


OC: It’s gonna be weird, this is only our second time in America. We flew straight from London two weeks ago. We’re gonna be playing at Piano’s, and then in Brooklyn with Tiny Victories. It should be a lot of fun!


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