Headlining acts at WYEP's annual Rock the Block fundraiser have followed a positive trend over the last three years. There was Soul Coughing's Mike Doughty in 2007 (meh); '90s alt-somethings Cracker in 2008 (toe-tap, head-bob) and for 2009, fresh-faced indie-pop quintet Ra Ra Riot (applause).
The Syracuse, N.Y.-based band cranks out brainy, danceable pop along the lines of mates Tokyo Police Club, combined with the Morrissey-inflected vocals of singer Wesley Miles and dramatic elements such as cello and violin. City Paper first covered Ra Ra Riot in February 2008, when the band put on an earnest yet joyful performance at Garfield Artworks in support of its self-released debut EP.
In short order, the band signed with indie heavyweight label Barsuk, which released the critically lauded album The Rhumb Line late last year; the dense, arty full-length helped cement the group's surprising affinity for Kate Bush, with a cover of "Suspended in Gaffa." Near-constant touring with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie and Maps & Atlases has followed, and in July, the XL label released an album from vocalist Miles' side project Discovery, a collaboration with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij.
Though the music matters, it's just part of the Rock the Block event: Also expect a lavish spread supplied by local eateries, brewers and more, seeing-and-being-seen, and -- if not a riot, exactly -- one of the last opportunities for an outdoor, summer's end throwdown.
WYEP Rock the Block fundraiser, featuring Ra Ra Riot and Lohio. 8 p.m.-midnight Sat., Sept. 12 (VIP feat. Serena Ryder, 6-8 p.m.) WYEP Community Broadcast Center and Bedford Square, South Side. $35 ($40 at the door/$100 VIP). 412-394-3353 or www.proartstickets.org