The Music Box
October 7, 2011
Better than... the Second Coming.
There are some bands who are so good live that their first show compels you to cancel your plans and come back the next night. I've done that before. I was so knocked over by The Rapture's headlining set at last year's FYF that I left no scalping stone unturned in a 24 hour quest to find tickets to their sold-out show at The Echoplex.
And, after their set last night at The Music Box, I just might be driving my ass out to Pomona tonight to see them again at The Glass House. The NYC boys are in town in part to support their latest release and in part for a stint with Culture Collide Festival, where they performed on Wednesday. While they won't be part of the weekend's lineup--featuring electro-boogie heavyweights like CSS, YACHT and Lindstrøm--they raised the bar pretty damn high last night for the weekend's best dance party.
Many folks in the crowd were probably nervous. After bassist-singer Mattie Safer departed in 2009, The Rapture regrouped and returned with a sound that's more melodic and instrument-based and less dark and synthy. But it's turned out to be the rare case where that's actually enhanced the work of an electro-tinged act rather than made it cheesy and overblown (see: Hot Chip). So while I'm disappointed that I'll never get to see my favorite Rapture song, "Sister Saviour," which features Safer on lead vocals, performed live, it turns out the push towards heavier instrumentation has made The Rapture all the more compelling to hear in a venue.
The band has always been solid on record--Grace is on par with 2003's acclaimed Echoes--but it's hard to pin down what makes The Rapture's live show so downright intoxicating. Singer/guitarist Luke Jenner, despite finally adding a bit of onstage swagger to his lanky frame last night, isn't exactly a firecracker of a frontman (though he does have one of the most underrated voices in rock today). And the set, a single-heavy selection divided equally among their last three albums, didn't vary too much from the recorded versions. But maybe that's just it--where similar acts depend on a studio to produce that kind of sleek, cerebral dance-punk, The Rapture keeps it strictly to instruments they can hold in their hands. There were no drum machines in sight, but drummer Vito Roccoforte's rhythmic assault, combined with Jenner's sharp guitar chords, were so tight they could've fooled me.
Performance-wise, multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Andruzzi stole the show--the man's got crazy eyes, and he didn't hesistate to step out from behind the keyboard to rock out with his alto sax or cowbell, the latter of which he held above the crowd like he was tempting a pack of wolves with a raw steak. Oh, and about that sax--as far as I'm concerned, The Rapture might be the only band where the use of saxophone is always an asset and never annoying.
If you didn't make it to last night's show, go get caught up in The Rapture. And if you did, well, then I'll see you again tonight.
The Crowd: Shy, bespectacled music geeks who make no bones about getting their dance on. They were grooving about as hard as you can get, but kept it fun and even kind of polite, rather than sloppy. You stay classy, Rapture fans.
Random Notebook Dump: Nobody likes you, guy trying to start a mosh pit.
Overheard in the Crowd: "This is exactly like being in a pool. A pool filled with musical water." - Jenner, while walking through the crowd during "Olio"
Cryptic set list below: