Ratatat Thump and Squeal Their Way Through D.C.
BY ELIOT HAGEN
Fans of Ratatat are few and far between in the general population, and the majority of them are college students. Their music is too advanced and strange sounding for the average high-school student, but perfect for the more open-minded members of the educational world.
In all my years of expanding and exploring my musical horizons, I’ve never heard anything like Ratatat. Essentially just two guys with electric guitars and a beat machine (and a backup keyboardist for live performances), their music challenges conventions.
Their studio albums range from exploration of modern rap and hip-hop to Middle Eastern and South American styles. In addition to compositional and rhythmic variety, the music actually sounds different, with noises and tones that most can’t even imagine.
With Ratatat concluding their summer tour with performances in D.C. and Baltimore, allow me to tell you how they were in concert: back in July, I crossed the river from Manhattan to Brooklyn to see them. The opening rap act was less than spectacular with generic beats and lyrics, but when the lights dimmed and the main act came on, I knew that the wait had been worth it.
The hour that followed more than made up for the 40 minutes that preceded it. The atmosphere in the club was so energized that even the most inhibited of people couldn’t help but ‘join in.’ Combined with lengthened versions of their best tracks and their stage presence, the performance was electrifying.
The light show was spectacular, with footage from their music videos, movies, news broadcasts and computer-generated-imagery playing in time with the music, the more climactic notes accompanied by a single blinding flash from a strobe.
As for what songs you can expect to hear, they played their better singles from their newest album, “LP3,” but also several extended renditions of tracks like “Lex,” “Wildcat” and “Seventeen Years.”