On Thursday, local band Riarosa took concert goers at The Varsity Theatre on a trip to the dream world and right back down to earth.
The five-person indie rock band hit the stage at around 11 p.m. after sets from Louisiana bands Circa Amore and Colorblock. They were casual and comfortable on the large stage, joking around as they set up their equipment, but as soon as lead singer and guitarist Maria Gough hit the first note, the venue was electrified.
The audience was entranced, dancing along with each song whether or not it was familiar to them, and the group cycled through their misty, layered tracks with the ease and confidence of a band that had played there a million times before.
That’s because they basically have.
Since their founding in November 2017, Riarosa has played The Varsity several times as opening acts for other Baton Rouge bands like Wumbo and Thesmoothcat. This is their first time headlining the venue.
The band began with drummer J.T. O’Neal as a trio called OrangeJuice. Guitarist Jacob Stanley, keyboardist Aaron Dupre, bass guitarist Jeffrey Livingston and vocalist and guitarist Maria Gough eventually came together to form what’s now Riarosa through jam sessions and connections in the Baton Rouge indie scene.
“They started playing and I started singing with them,” Gough said. “I never thought I’d actually be in a band, but it’s awesome. It’s the best thing ever.”
Each member of the band brings a unique set of influences and skills that layer to create the dreamy sound that Riarosa has. Most of the group is also involved in at least one other local project, from O’Neal’s place in the synth wave Boi Dreamz to Livingston’s in the math rock Relatives.
“We each have something very different but it all ties together when we play together.” Gough said. “You could definitely say it’s a new sound, especially in Baton Rouge.”
One member, however, takes the cake in local involvement. Jacob Stanley has found his way into five different bands around the city— Diet Milk, Hydra Plane, Boom Child, Loozy and of course, Riarosa. When asked how he juggles it all, he offered the calmest response anyone could have provided.
“Seven days in a week.” Stanley said. “That’s only five bands.”
Since the band became official, they have released three singles, but have much more music in the works. Their most recent single, “Don’t Look Back,” was released to Spotify on Friday, and they have at least two more singles ready to drop soon.
Riarosa also has some upcoming live performances on its plate, notably North Gate Fest in October. This annual festival takes place on Chimes Street, right outside of the north gate of The University.
To stay updated on new releases and performances, follow Riarosa on Instagram @riarosaband, and keep an eye on Spotify for new releases on the way.