By Ben Doy
Date / Venue: Thursday December 10th, 2015 - The Studio, Auckland
It's a question I had to ask myself. How had I been oblivious to Ratatat for such a long time?
The ‘Rocktronica' duo formed way back in 2001, releasing their first album ‘Ratatat' in 2004. And although I'd heard the name, it wasn't until their latest release this year ‘Manifique' that I gave them a serious listen... it turned out to be one of those defining moments. So when I discovered they were heading our way for a show in Auckland, I knew it was one show that couldn't be missed.
Heading to the Studio last night after a pretty grueling day (with a driver in tow so I could partake in a couple of cheeky bevies) expectations were high. Local hip-hop duo Heavy (Liam and Reem) got the proceedings off to fun start. Very bassy... could feel a slight Beastie Boys style in certain parts, and when Reem rapped it you had a sense this might be what it would be like if Neneh Cherry was part of Cypress Hill. The crowd built while Heavy were on stage and received a good reaction, one to keep an eye on for sure.
But now it was time for Ratatat. Kicking things off with ‘Pricks of Brightness' from the latest record was an excellent choice. The intro was like a massive homage to Queen's guitarist Brian May. The Studio by this stage was packed, and guitarist Mike Stroud and bassist Evan Mast were having a whale of a time. The screen behind them was in full force, lit up displaying visuals of spinning heads and golden statues.
Although Ratatat are purely instrumental, Stroud makes that guitar of his sing delightfully, while the bong rattling bass of Mast is really the perfect companion. The two also had a whole range of Synths & samples which they played with, the whole show running like a well-oiled machine.
And just when you thought maybe a groove or riff was starting to go on for just a little too long, it all suddenly changed to a different feel completely, pulling in the audience and making it impossible not to have a groove. Very talented stuff.
Cream on Chrome went off! With its hypnotic feel, catchy licks and a crazy running 8-armed baby on the screen - it was like living in some crazy video game. The upbeat feel good Abrasive was sensational. The staccato synth style of Nightclub Amnesia was spellbinding, and Wildcat just had us in awe.
I'm not sure how long they played for; they must have been pushing two hours. The whole time they maybe said 10 words... "Thank you" a handful of times to the crowd. That was all that was needed, the instruments did the talking. I'd say it'd be a contender for concert of the year.
Mind blowing... that says it best.