I first saw Ratatat live in December 2006, at the intimate but now closed Art Bar downtown. I stood only a few feet away from the band on their little stage, completely drenched in color from their projectors, and I still vividly remember their immense music traveling through my body. I have only seen a few bands that can produce a true feeling of euphoria with their music alone. After that show, I instantly became a huge fan and supporter of Ratatat. I have literally been bursting with excitement counting down the days to this show.
Opening tonight’s show at the House of Blues was Bobby Birdman and Dom. Although we missed Bobby Birdman due to the biggest box office line I have ever seen, I was happy to know so many people made a last minute decision to see Ratatat. We walked in with enough time to get a drink and get close to the stage when Dom came out.
As I was expecting similar instrumental groups to open the show, I was happily surprised with Dom’s grungy garage rock sound. The lead vocals were echoed with rough edges and produced ample sound as they completed most of their set as three guitarists and one drummer. Although I’m not quite sure how to describe their sound, it was old but new, think Sonic Youth. Dom had a good vibe, fresh sound, and put on an enjoyable show.
As the audience and anticipation grew, many of us up front started sharing Ratatat stories, only heightening our excitement. Looking across the stage, I noticed the quality and quantity of their music instruments had grown, and so had their visual equipment. As lights darkened, a roar of cheers filled the room, while Ratatat slowly brought up the lights and their synthesizers. Within minutes the stage was an eruption of light and sound. Both members hopped between several instruments, in front of a large projection screen of images from their videos, with two incredible holographic glass panes on either side of the stage. Just as I remembered, their music was overwhelming but also greatly enhanced by the visual elements.
Ratatat kept the crowd dancing and clapping throughout.their amazing set that included songs from every album: Bob Gandhi, Grape Juice City, Mandy, Mirando, Loud Pipes, Falcon Jab, Mahalo, Shempi, Neckbrace, Gettysberg (introduced as, “This song is about surfing.”), Party With Children, Wildcat, Drugs, Lex. After the chanting had diminished and it was unclear if they were going to play an encore, the crowd went wild when we heard, “I’ve been rappin’ for about seventeen years...” For the last two songs, Seventeen Years and Bare Feast, Ratatat and the fans gave all they had left.
As the House of Blues cleared, we were left bubbling with pure fascination of the incredible show we had just experienced. Many of us met up afterward and continued our Ratatat stories and the rush we felt after the show. Just as it was four years ago, Ratatat made a deep impression on their audience, spreading the bond of music through people, comparable to nothing else. True to my tweet after the show, “Ratatat is still one of the top 10 live bands I've ever seen.”