By: Jamie Reysen
Ratatat guitarist Mike Stroud called LP3 a teaser to LP4. In retrospect, Ratatat’s 2009 performance was a mere movie trailer compared to their Oct. 5 return to Boston’s House of Blues. In a nutshell, the concert was cinematic.
Ratatat’s music is a surreal experiment in sound, meant to be experienced both audibly and visually. The duo is known for projecting conceptual video sequences in conjunction with their songs.
As Ratatat opened with “Bob Gandhi”-- a song that embodies their layered and complex electronic sound-- the screen projected images one fan described as “a sprinkler pointed just at us.” Another said it was either bubbles or sparks. I saw the ripples of low tide.
Within minutes, Ratatat took it from low tide to tidal wave with their wailing guitar leads, skittering beats and string sections. Since Stroud and Evan Mast recorded LP4 with the help of a string quartet, they brought their accompaniment on the road. Well, sort of.
The two side panel projection screens featured Stroud and Evan Mast’s orchestral avatars, donning all white Classical-era outfits and powdered wigs to match. The holograms popped in and out throughout the set to accompany the real-life duo.
There were screen projector guest appearances by Ratatat’s iconic animals. During “Wildcat”, the animal for which the song is dubbed flashed on screen, and the Ratatat budgie had significant stage presence throughout the show. While footage of the budgie played on side panels, the main screen featured kaleidoscopic images of the bird.
Ratatat seasoned their LP4 set list with the best of LP3 and Classics. “Lex,” the powerhouse of Classics, jumpstarted a series of singles in motion. From there, they transitioned into LP4’s bossa nova-inspired “Party with Children.” During LP4’s “Drugs,” the screen projected its music video, a creepy compilation of commercial B-roll from the Getty Images archives. “Shempi” and its trippy, deconstructed Abba video came next—arguably one of their best songs and one of my favorite videos of all time. Ratatat winded down with Gettysburg, and the duo silently left the stage.
Ratatat doesn’t put too much weight in words, letting sounds and visuals speak for themselves. But their epic encore began with the one quick phrase we had been dying to hear: “I’ve been rappin’ for about 17 years…”
The audience drowned out the rest of the introductory phrase of Ratatat’s very first single, the heavy-hitting “Seventeen Years.” The crowd’s combined nostalgia for the song amplified the strength of the performance tenfold.
They ended—for real, this time—with “Bare Feast”, an upbeat folk-inspired tune from LP4.
I left thrilled with the performance, completely satisfied with the song selection, and resentful toward the city of Boston for turning into a pumpkin before midnight—the show ended at 11:30 sharp.
Ratatat has three cities left to hit on their North American tour—Philadelphia, DC, and back-to-back dates in New York. I can’t wait to see what Stroud and Mast come up with next. While I can’t imagine their most recent performance being a teaser to something greater, Ratatat never fails to surprise.
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