Live: Ratatat Nearly Cause a Riot at Terminal 5


Terminal 5
Saturday, October 9

Better than: Being in any other throng of 3,000 college students.

For a band of no words, Ratatat still swiftly establish their agenda–they would prefer the crowd riot. This is never uttered during their Saturday show – bassist/keyboardist Evan Mast only uses his mike to mutter “thank you” between bursts of their showy, frothing beats–but it is evident from guitarist Mike Stroud’s hyperactive, face-down flailing onto the stage and his filthy pantomiming up to the press balcony. (Hi Mike!) Seconds into their opening bassline, the clinical floor space of Terminal 5 ruptures with screaming and dancing. The barricades separating the front photo pit from the crowd are sporadically knocked over and quickly rightened by furious security guards, like a game of electro-rock red rover.

It’s probably dangerous, and it’s definitely fun.

On Saturday, the Brooklyn duo proved definitively that they can carry their own roadshow. (Though after touring with Bjork, Daft Punk, and Interpol, they had little to prove.) Their set culled heavily from this year’s LP4, a tricky feat; the least maniacal and uptempo of their four albums (all on XL), it features their usual sharp, dense melodies but also some unexpected, gentler meandering and talkbox quirks. But it worked live, you’ll be glad to know, and the multi-tasking young dance duo of eerily identical visages (shoulder-length brown hair, shrunken tees, skinny jeans) translated these kitschy elements by keeping them to a minimum. Live dance instrumentals are no slouching endeavor, and Mast popped between his boards, drums, and bass while Stroud showboated in the front. In the back, bizarrely transfixing videos looped images of pigeons, 3D busts of Mozart, and what appeared to be Jason Robards in the 1970 film adaptation of Julius Caesar(?).

The biggest reception was saved for their (relatively) vintage cuts, most off 2006’s solid Classics. The blippy trip-hopped pulse of “Wildcat” and its literal feline howls landed hard and swift in the late end of their set. Mast revisited the growling animal effects sporadically afterwards, cueing them up one final time before both he and Stroud stage-dived into the giddy crowd. A tight show and a messy finish–nothing wrong with that.

Critical bias: Nothing says dance party like $12 Red Bull-and-vodkas.

Overheard: “Terminal 5 is the best! Because it doesn’t suck tonight!”

Random notebook dump: Almost no LP3 offerings? Wait, light-up drums! Still a win!

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