The Ridges
The Ridges (Lexie Alley)

Ridges Returning for OU Homecoming Bash

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For many Ohio University alumni, Homecoming Weekend is a chance to reconnect with old friends, relive past glories and return to a town they called home for four years (possibly more, in some cases).

For orchestral folk-rock band The Ridges, it means a few different things. The group got their start in Athens, took their name from a local landmark and the members are made up of OU alumni and current students.

Although the band plans to reminisce with other Bobcats this weekend, they’re firmly focused on the present. After a whirlwind visit to South by Southwest in March, the seven-piece group embarked on a summer tour with one of their musical heroes, Kishi Bashi. Most recently they performed a Midpoint Music Festival showcase in Cincinnati’s historic Memorial Hall.

Now they’re returning home for a party at Casa Neuva with friends Indigo Wild and Shivering Timbers. WOUB caught up with Ridges frontman Victor Rasgaitis to learn more about their recent tour and this weekend’s show.

WOUB: How did your tour with Kishi Bashi come about?

Victor Rasgaitis: We’re all huge Kishi Bashi fans. When I first heard him, it was at an unassuming solo show in a small Cincinnati club and I was completely blown away. Musically, it was love at first sight. The violin! The looping! The songwriting! It was overwhelming. And then his album? Needless to say, it was one of my favorites of the year. That was 2012 and we were trying anything we could to push The Ridges into a touring schedule, so we reached out to his agent about getting us on some shows with him. Like all good agents, he kindly rejected us, but said he liked our sound. Two years and dozens of emails later, we finally got the show: Mercy Lounge in Nashville, Tenn. Backstage, we immediately clicked with K and the band. Then, as it turns out, they liked our set! The next week, we got a call to join them for a stretch of tour dates. It was a two-year dream come true.

WOUB: What were some of the tour’s highlights?

VR: In no uncertain terms, touring with Kishi Bashi was the most exciting thing that The Ridges have ever done. We were on the road with one of our absolute favorite bands. We were going to cities none of us had ever been to — and some we’d never even heard of, such as Jim Thorpe, Pa. And we were playing to theaters full of rabidly receptive music-lovers every single night. We’d toured before, but never like this. It was surreal. It was fun. And it was perfect. A perfection summed-up by the one home state show of the tour, when Kishi Bashi invited us on stage to bang on some percussion–and dance our asses off–for his final Cincinnati encore. Those three-and-a-half minutes alone would have made this tour one of the most unforgettable experiences of our lives, but add on the new fans who were already singing along, the most welcoming couch-surfing hosts you’ve ever met, the breathtaking theaters, and the inspiration of seeing Kishi Bashi play every night…all we can say is that we definitely want to do that again!

WOUB: So what’s ahead for The Ridges? More tours? Recording?

VR: We’re always moving forward and don’t intend to take a break anytime soon. Yes, more touring. Yes, recording. And yes, we’ll do some other projects just for the fun of it. We’re in this to make music and create as many unforgettable experiences as we can, so one way or another, we’ll be doing that. And we’ll be having a hell of a lot of fun along the way. But this weekend, we’re all about Athens. We’re throwing an all-out all-night party at Casa with two of our all-time favorite bands—Indigo Wild and Shivering Timbers—and after a busy summer on the road with Kishi Bashi, we couldn’t be more excited to bring it all back home.

WOUB: I’m assuming that most, if not all, of the band members are OU alumni. Are you hoping to reconnect with old friends and fans this weekend?

VR: We’re beyond excited to see our old Bobcat friends who have moved out of Athens back at Casa! Most of the band are alumni now, though we actually do still have OU students playing with us as well, so Homecoming Weekend is an extremely special experience for us. When we go out on the road, we’re always amazed by how many OU alumni turn up to see our shows. It’s a special connection and we are forever grateful for the support that the OU community continues to give us. Playing Athens for homecoming seems like the perfect way to reconnect with some of our most supportive fans who live in cities that we haven’t had the opportunity to play yet, while simultaneously meeting new music lovers who haven’t even heard of us. It’s the old and the new, side-by-side, packed into a beautifully sweaty and music-filled Casa. Let’s have some fun this weekend, Athens!

Saturday’s show gets underway at 10 p.m. For more information, visit The Ridges’ website, check out their Facebook page or follow the band on Twitter.