Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Ratatat at the Hollywood Palladium
There should be no excuse to missing the opening bands for a concert. You never know whom you could be potentially missing. One of my first concerts dates back to 1992 when I saw Pearl Jam at the Hollywood Palladium and some band called Rage Against the Machine opened.
I forgot this important tenet when I saw one of the best shows of 2007, Daft Punk at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I went to the show with a group of good friends and unfortunately we missed Ratatat. I inexplicably missed Ratatat again when they played two sold out shows at the Henry Fonda in September 2008. I only kick myself now after experiencing their breath taking show at the Hollywood Palladium.
While I am nowhere near qualified to speak about rap acts, Despot did leave a lasting impression. Hailing from Brooklyn, various backing tracks laid down the thick groove for Despot and his rapid-fire raps. Despot mentioned he was working on a project entitled "Jerry" which was a collaboration between him and Ratatat to write and record a song each day to be later released as a free download in tribute to his father.
Despot made a bid to help kids get healthier asking the crowd to do jumping jacks with him to which a good portion of the crowd responded in kind. The stand out tracks in his set was "Get Your Shrug On" and "Crap Artists". I imagine he will start to make even more noise when his album comes out.
The atmosphere shifted when Tussle hit the stage. A wash of blue covered the stage as Tussle wrestled with spaced out keyboards, and intertwined programmed sequences from a sampler. Tussle's latest album is Cream Cuts, which is a wild electronic instrumental ride through multiple oscillators and filters of a Korg keyboard. Tussle recently downsized to a three-piece outfit with the amicable departure of Warren Huegel.
Recreating these multi-layered tracks is quite the feat, but Tussle was up to the challenge by incorporating live bass and drums to add some human touches to their robotic groove. I did appreciate them rocking the headset microphone along with a microKorg but couldn't spot all the electronic gadgets set up on the table on stage. The Hollywood Palladium was a vast space for their tight grooves and will definitely like to see them in a smaller venue.
I quite frankly debated about posting a slew of pictures from this show and referring to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Ratatat falls into a must see live act. There are only a few bands worthy of opening for Daft Punk and Ratatat falls into that distinction.
It seemed like forever for Ratatat to take the stage. The anticipation started to build and the chants for "Ratatat" started to erupt. Once the lights dimmed, a lone projector lit up the Hollywood Palladium with a bright "Ratatat" logo. Cue the audience going crazy.
The creepy harpsichord notes of "Shiller" served as a warning shot to the impending shotgun blast of synthesized waves of music to come. It was the matter of only a few notes before Ratatat had ensnared the audience down in front.
Ratatat is composed of Mike Stroud (Guitars/Synthesizers) and Evan Mast (Bass/Synthesizers) who create a whirlwind amount of noise for a duo. I feared at times that my camera would melt during some of Mike's fiery guitar solos. They were not speed metal fast, but played with such emotion that you could not help but want to rock out. Evan was no slouch on his Gibson SG bass laying down super thick and funky bass lines.
Accompanying the aural assault was a visual feast for the eyes as various layers and lights blasted off the stage. During "Flynn", footage of the classic Paul Simon video with Chevy Chase "You Can Call Me Al" played in the background. If they incorporated footage from the movie Fletch, I would have deemed it the concert of the year.
The Thundercats roar during "Wildcat" had the crowd go nuts with the crowd throwing their hands in the air with each roar. "Shempi" maybe one of the closer tunes to emulating the genius of Daft Punk with its decidedly French flavor and twinkling synthesizer starblasts. I forgot how late it was by the time Ratatat came out for an encore of "Snifters" and the positively electric "Seventeen Years". The cult of Ratatat continues to grow with each concert they play.
Ratatat setlist at the Hollywood Palladium (4/4/09)