Ratatat: Live Last Night


Live Last Night

In terms of an appropriate onomatopoeia band name, THUMPBOOMSHRIEK -- absolutely in all caps -- would work better than Ratatat, the name the electro-rock duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast went with. Ratatat implies some sort of understated, simple percussion. But there was nothing remotely understated about the punishing wall of sound produced by Stroud and Mast Thursday night at a sold out 9:30 club. The volume was truly overwhelming. I know from loud shows and this was unquestionably one of the loudest shows I have ever been to. The thick-as-a-brick bass reverberated through every bone in your body and Stroud's piercing guitar, turned up to 11 -- at least -- just made the high end equal to the low end. It was violently loud. The only possible thing going through your mind after the show was, "Holy [expletive], I can't believe how loud that was."

It was certainly about 20 decibels too loud to even consider thinking, but that was just as well -- there's not much to ponder with Ratatat's offerings. It's dance music without any annoying vocals to get in the way. Soundtrack music to an indie-action movie. Or maybe an Urban Outfitters ad. Jock jams for people who probably don't like sports. Club music with a touch of psychedelic flavor, with an assist from the images projected behind the band.

It's safe to say that most of the pummeling sound was pre-recorded. That was a given for almost all of the beats, but there were moments when Stroud posed instead of playing guitar or Mast paused in between banging on a drum pad or hitting a note on his bass and there was no difference in what was coming from the speakers. It's not to say they weren't playing at all -- they were. It's more that it simply didn't matter. Making sure that every note in one of Stroud's very-metal solos was actually being played on stage was the last thing any of the hopping, sweaty and, at least today, very deaf masses cared about. The louder the better for them, which means some people probably left the club thinking they just witnessed the greatest concert ever.

By David Malitz |  April 17, 2009; 4:11 PM ET Live Last Night
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