Monday, November 24, 2008


Imagine a band without lyrics
Imagine also that this band has only 2 members, both of whom play guitar, bass, and drums, and often all 3 in a single song
Imagine that this band pre-records samples and rocks out on stage with all three instruments, plus sampling

This is Ratatat, who put on quite possibly/probably/definitely the best concert that I have ever seen.

Set started at around 9 PM at the Nouveau Casino in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris. The venue was small: perfect for Ratatat, and the sound: extraordinary. There was also quite a bit of the laser show, complete with fog machines and flashing lights. Not that they needed it, really... the sound was so magnificent that I would have been content with blindness. What an experience!

How could I possibly even describe Ratatat? Electronica? Indie? But that is only what Windows Media Player tells me. Mike Stroud and Evan Mast (the 2 members) are quite possibly the coolest Brooklynites to hit the music scene in years. Ratatat has had three full albums (Ratatat, Classics, and LP3) and 2 remix albums released: perfect for a full-length concert. Over the years Ratatat have progressed from being simply a cool electronic band with guitars and synthesizers to a more well-rounded and complex sound; their latest (LP3) includes instruments most of you (and I) haven't even heard of, giving it an "international" feel with track titles like "Mumtaz Khan," "Shempi," and "Mi Viejo." Unsurprisingly, "Mumatz" has a Southeast Asian tone, "Shempi" a Japanese one, and "Mi Viejo" a drum-based Latin American vibe. They're three of the best songs on the album, and of course Ratatat played all three. In fact, Ratatat played every single song I wanted to hear-- all 10 of them, and more.

The line-up? Incredible. They began with "Shiller", the shrill, hypnotic first track of LP3, their most recent album.

See for yourself

(no music video, but the song is fantastic, especially 2:25 onwards)

2nd song, predictably low key: new song "Flynn." BUT: 3rd was "Germany to Germany," their pounding and highly emotional single from their debut album. I tried to take a video of them playing it but I kid you not the guitar notes were too high for my camera to record. Thus the video is literally missing the sweetest notes they hit.

BUT! Imagine THIS, live

[side note: that is the coolest music video I have ever seen]

[Yes, it looks like I'm using way too much hyperbole for my own good, but I cannot emphasize enough how amazing Ratatat are live. ]

They played "Mi Viejo" directly after "Mumtaz Khan," which worked surprisingly well, and finished off the 1 1/2-hour long set with "Seventeen Years," undoubtedly their most famous song, which begins with an infamous sample of a man saying: "I 'been rapping for about 17 years, ok; i just don't write my stuff anymore, I just take it from my head, you know what I'm sayin'? I can do that- no disrespect, but that's how I am." Incredible track.

Encores? A remix, plus "Shempi", their latest catchy head-bopping single.

As performers, Ratatat beat the largely uninteresting indie gendre by unfathomable degrees. The long-haired guitarist pulled many a Jimmy Page, hair falling over his face. Extremely passionate performers. At one point both members were pounding on the drums, and we in the audience were surprised: 1. that the drumsticks didn't break, and 2. that the drums themselves didn't fall apart completely. Blue Man Group-style pounding, that. My friend Nate and I were blown away.

And, of course, pictures, for all to enjoy (and yes, I was indeed that close):

1 comment:

Nora Elisabeth Lambrecht said...

I consistently like Ratatat remixes more than Ratatat originals (and quite frequently the Ratatat remixes more than the originals, cf "We Share Our Mother's Health"), but I'm still jealous. I haven't been to a good concert in almost exactly a year. Your hyperbole sounds justified to me.