As a young band gunning for some exposure, it certainly wouldn't hurt to count the guys in Vampire Weekend as a few of your close friends. But of all the bands that could use the help, Ra Ra Riot doesn't need nepotism to reach the spotlight. The Syracuse, New York, combo piles on the strings and uses lavish arrangements to elevate their winsome pop music past the point of indie charity case, positioning themselves as a hugely talented group that makes the most of their strengths. If you've heard them, you know not to expect anything resembling raw aggression; the music is well-mannered enough to make even the Ivy Leaguers in VWs feel like badass outlaws. But, even with all the good humor, the band never comes off as overly twee or toothless, thanks mostly to their closeness to subjects like death and depression—there are sins to atone for and losses to grieve. They may not be angels, but they're trying hard to sound like it. With Chikita Violenta and We Barbarians. 18+.
Thu., Oct. 7, 8 p.m., 2010