Sometimes in life, one has the opportunity to relive old adolescent flames with the very same wonder and heart-racing, gut-wrenching, enthusiasm experienced only through the memory of your 15 year-old antics. That was me on Thursday night, waiting with anticipation on the dance floor at Metro City on the outskirts of Northbridge for Ratatat to take the stage.
The crowd waited patiently, and you could hear the odd voice here and there reading out the time from their watch or talking about the supporting acts. “That guy was really interesting, what was his name?” That would be one-man musician and stand-up comedian, Kirin J Callinan. And another voice somewhere over here stating, “Community Chest were pretty damn sweet.” As 10.30pm rolls around, everyone is hushed. Accompanied by an emphatic bassline, big white letters screaming out ‘RATATAT’ are projected on stage, and the Brooklyn duo are met with shouts and claps of welcome as they take the stage.
The set opens with ‘Pricks of Brightness’, and we were given our first taste of the incredible lightshow we were about to witness – as they inched us into it nice and slowly, only giving us a wee taste of the visual pleasures to come. The beach-side-chillin’ feels of the first song set up the gig with a very smooth beginning indeed.
Ever since the release of their single “Seventeen Years” in 2003, Ratatat have continued to surpass the expectations of listeners with the shredding electronic brilliance of their purely instrumental melodies. And, my, did they deliver on Thursday night! More than 10 years after the release of their first album and the band’s sound has not really changed all that much. The word one would use to describe the duo’s growth musically is simply “mature”; their sound has matured with the times. It is admirable to see a group keep their unique style so securely while remaining relevant to current music trends.
There was no hesitation on the dance floor as ‘Loud Pipes’ came on second and guided almost every soul in the venue into a jig. One was mesmerized throughout the entire show by the light spectacle and the brilliant images projected into a screen behind the stage. The visual feast of images and Mike Stroud (guitarist, synthesizer, and percussionist) darting all over the stage and at times in front of the projections, obscuring parts of the picture with his silhouette making its own appearance on the screen. The guitar was like a fifth limb, an extension of himself. To mention the crowd once more, it must be stated that everyone was in great spirits. Almost everyone was simply chill (I say ‘almost’ because of that one individual who thought it would be terrific to play footsy with his mate and a crushed-up can of coke, but they can’t all be gems).
Naturally, the audience went wild for ‘Cream on Chrome’, and there truly is nothing like seeing a banger performed live! They dotted old favorites with new hits throughout the set-list quite brilliantly. ‘Mirando’ from their LP3 album (2008) snuck in at number six or so in the lineup (a personal favourite of mine, might I add). ‘Wildcat’ drove everybody mad, and the show on screen was perhaps the highlight of the night: the head of a majestic lion superimposed on itself and repeated in ever changing patterns that went along and roared to the beat. Phenomenal.
The only words spoken on stage were “thank you”, repeated humbly by both Evan Mast and Mike Stroud throughout the performance. Ratatat effortlessly proved that lyrics are not necessary to create amazing music, and when it came to the last song, the crowd cheered, whistled and begged them back on. And back they came. The atmosphere was energetic and ecstatic all evening and never faltered even towards closing time. We were given an encore of two more songs – ending on the mind-numbing melody that is ‘Shempi’ from LP3 – and I think I can speak for everyone in saying the venue cleared out in a complete daze. What a night!