When you think of a modern rock show, it’s not likely that you think of lasers blasting through the audience and tripped out images illuminating an eight metre LED panel. But then again, most rock acts aren’t Ratatat.
Sandwiching a whirlwind Asian tour between their Australian performances and the European festival circuit, Ratatat filled Bangkok’s Live RCA on Monday night, dousing the venue in their patented blend of electro rock wizardry.
More renown as a venue hosting house and techno artists than for live music, event organizers Have You Heard made full use of the expansive main room, adorning the room with a dizzying array of lighting effects and towering speaker stacks. The event’s sponsor Singha Light had also marked their pressence, with branding visible everywhere across the venue and the bar’s selection limited to Singha Light or vodka, much to the chagrin of some of the guests in front of me in queue.
The anticipant crowd’s energy was palpable as the hip hop beats of DJ Premiere faded and the pair stepped onto the stage. If there was any question as to who exactly was about to perform was immediately quashed when a sparking giant Ratatat logo illuminated the stage behind them. The pair tore straight into “Pricks of Brightness” from last year’s Magnifique , the growling guitars enveloping the expansive space at Live RCA. “Falcon Jab” and “Mirando” followed soon after, with a rainbow of lasers and powerful lights blasting across the heads of the assembled crowd.
The Brooklyn-based experimental rock duo are men of few words. Their interactions with the crowd were kept to a minimum, gaps between songs punctuated with an occasional “thank you.” As an entirely instrumental rock duo, Mike Stroud and Evan Mast combine their music with a visual aspect to keep fans interested. And that, it did. The enormous screen behind them sequenced through a staggering number of visuals featuring lions, eight armed babies, flying sparks and chirping birds.
Alternating between keyboards, electronic drums and an almost unfathomable amount of guitar pedals, the duo sequenced through a diverse collection of both older material and some of their newer tracks. Both musicians frequently switched between various instruments (sometimes mid-song), playing both the driving foundations of some songs as well as cool embellishments to the backing tracks. Some songs, like main set closer “Seventeen Years,” were slightly extended, but for the most part, the arrangements remained faithful to their recorded counterparts.
“Wildcat” received a stirring reception by the assembled crowd as the screech of a wild cat echoed across the venue. The song almost approaches heavy metal territory at times with its crunching riffs, but then it returned to build up to a dance-rock climax with Mast’s heavy bass joining the dance beats.
There’s something comfortingly hypnotic about Ratatat’s music. There isn’t a ton of variety within their discography, but because they’re so skilled at what they do, fans are guaranteed to enjoy the ride if they enjoy just one song. Seeing them live only reinforced this point. An hour and a half flew by.
The crowds appeals for an encore did not go unheeded. The duo quickly returned to the stage and fire out two more songs before the crowd filtered out into RCA, all confident they’d each been part of something pretty special.