From Iceland — Oops.


Published January 9, 2009


Ratatat fucked up.
Well, it wasn’t their fault entirely. There were other fuck-ups involved. And maybe theirs wasn’t even the biggest fuck-up. But somebody fucked up, and I have a strong feeling Ratatat were one of the involved parties.
The fuck-up they are most likely to be blamed for is how late they started. I know it’s fashionable and completely understandable for bands to start late. You want to wait until there’s a crowd there. No sense in playing a show somewhere as remote as Iceland unless there are people there.
But waiting until 4 a.m. was probably a bad idea. There were already tons of people there, and they were way past the point of no return. A drunken mishmash of dazed, yawning indie kids mixed with the usual array of casual concert-goers that flock to big foreign names were heaving and undulating like the usual rugby scrum that is the Broadway floor. What little energy they still had at 2 a.m. was pummelled out of them by FM Belfast’s fad-driven 4/4 stomp and smug onstage in-jokes.
Broadway is a terrible venue, unless you’ve come to see what it would be like for your favourite band to perform in a hotel lobby or a shabby Reno movie theatre – it pretty much ruins everything it touches. It’s a crying shame that Iceland can’t offer better mid-level venues than this. If Jeanine Pettibone were to book a venue in Iceland, Broadway would be it.
And the sound is usually terrible, which it certainly was for Ratatat. With barely audible guitar playback and a bass-heavy EQ, they sounded like someone playing guitar to music coming out of a sub-woofer on a car stereo. Ratatat performed admirably under the circumstances. The crowd was a bit too partied out to pay complete attention, but ‘Lex’ and ‘Wildcat’ got big cheers, as did the predictable enough encore of ‘Seventeen Years’.
It must be hard relying so heavily on crowd energy. When you’re confined to playing along to pre-programmed beats and lack a vocalist to connect with the masses, I can imagine playing with bad sound for an inebriated crowd at 4:30 in the morning would be more than a little intimidating.
The coloured moving lights behind them helped. The massive projection screen behind them provided excellent and minimal visuals, which did enhance the atmosphere. The cut-up of ‘Predator’ that accompanied ‘Mirando’ was particularly amusing. I have it from reliable sources that Mike Stroud can quote the entire film verbatim, and from the love and attention that backdrop projection had received, I can see the rumour must have at least some ring of truth to it.
But all in all it was a failure. Someone, or rather several someones, fucked up, and the only people who had any fun there were the ones who were just having another night out, and even a good deal of those found something better to do; the crowd started to trickle out long before Ratatat finished, no doubt off to hit the bars before they closed. I refuse to hold any single individual accountable, but someone fucked up. Which is a shame, really; I rather like Ratatat. Oh well.

  • Who Ratatat, FM Belfast
  • Where Broadway
  • When Saturday, December 20
  • The verdict Ratatat fucked up.
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