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New Dork City

(Photo by Timothy Norris)

The Rapture, Foreign Born

The Mayan, July 25

If you haven’t yet experienced the phenomenon known as walk-dancing, one of the best places to witness it is at a Rapture show. Here’s how it goes: guy in awfully tight pants and girl in an ’80s-era white one-piece enter a bar area, bouncing as they walk. The walk-dancer can’t wait to find a stationary position to begin spastic maneuvers — it’s the Rapture, for Christ’s sake: a dance band, albeit one with rock-band clichés and poses. (Guitar up, big smile to the crowd, and .?.?. solo!)

Although they’re an incredibly tight band composed of musicians whose skills are more evident onstage than on record, the Rapture, surprisingly, have a refreshing air of normal-guy dorkiness to them. But the dorkiness envelopes itself like a snake swallowing its own tail: they’re so uncool that it’s cool, which is kind of uncool, which is ironically cool, and so on and so forth.

Make no mistake, from the mid-tempo grooves of “Get Myself Into It” to “Sister Savior”?’s stabbing rock to the signature cowbell of “House of Jealous Lovers” — which brought the house down — the Rapture were firmly in command of the crowd at the Mayan. Guitarist Luke Jenner and bassist Mattie Safer swapped vocals song for song, although the pair ain’t exactly a Strummer/Jones tag team, because both sing way up in the register. (Jenner’s climbs higher, which I like better.) Gabriel Andruzzi did his best funky sax-and-keyboard gimp-dance all night long, helping to create an atmosphere as attuned to the discotheque as to the rock club. So it made perfect sense that the band ended with “Olio,” an older song with techno beats and a swirling acid bass line. Like true showmen, Jenner and Safer left the stage first, allowing the throbbing pulse to end the night, a gesture of subtle humility from a band that seems to thrive on moving the crowd.

L.A.’s own Foreign Born started things off, an odd selection for the lucky opening spot. Matt Popieluch’s reedy voice flits over a bed of fairly standard indie rock derived from a slightly dour ’80s background. The band truly hit their zone during some engaging instrumental buildups and a rollicking ’60s-style tune that brought the pace up a bit. Foreign Born already seems to be going places — they have a new record coming out next month on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak imprint — but they truly set themselves apart when they perk up their guitars with more energy.

—Jonah Flicker


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