Ratatat Storms Sproul

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Music elitists and curious bystanders alike gathered in Lower Sproul Tuesday evening to rejoice to the tunes of American daft punks Mike Stroud and Evan Mast, collectively known as Ratatat.

The weather could not have been more perfect for an outdoor minifest, and although the Brooklyn band's visual and chemical ecstasy level paled in comparison to an authentic Daft Punk show, the wailing freestyle guitar-synth-bass bursts blew the simple set into a Superb smoke shrouded funk-a-riff-ic spectacle.

Without a doubt, the best part of the show was watching the ambient electro-rock abstainers looking confusedly at the stage, thinking to themselves, "Are they gonna start singing?"

But dancing proved contagious, and the movement generated by the bumping beats and hihats spread from the front row onward after two or three songs, until everyone was feeling it.

Those who were at the show know that there needs to be something said about the remarkable opening bands, who managed to pump up the crowd while making them question the limitations of human sanity.

European indie pop-rock smile-squad the Envelopes welcomed the sunset with an upbeat assembly of aloof, cutesy punk chorals and self-amusement, displaying to Californians that Sweden, not Disneyland, is the happiest place on Earth.

As the stage crew scurried to replace the Envelopes' equipment with shining red Ratatat keyboards, a voice from below the stage muttered, "Is the iPod hooked up? Yeah, I'm just playing between sets." This voice belonged to none other than Panthr.

Yes, Panthr: The one man act that both confounded and captivated audience members with graceless dancing and makeshift beatboxing. Nervous laughter from the congregation soon became downright jubilee as Panthr's artless sexual lyricism and off-key vocals nipped at the ears of cackling listeners. Basically, it was like watching a deaf man harmonize with himself to a pulsing Casio beat. He is the wedding singer from hell, and I want him at my next party. Those who saw Panthr's exhibit of musical Dadaism will never forget it.

The crowd was easily the largest seen at a Superb concert, making for a priceless display of students from all walks of life gathering to support the worthy cause of rocking out.

Ratatat, as expected, performed mainly new material off of their August release Classics, and the songs were played with respectable exactitude, without any soloing or branching out. Even though this may have led some listeners to disappointment, the liveliness of the band more than compensated for any immediate impressions of static.

The highlights of the night were "Wildcat," "Nostrand," and "Lex" off of the new CD. "Seventeen Years," the energetic standout from their self-titled debut, ended with a barrage of solos, igniting the crowd with clapping and cavorting to the point where even the clearly clueless onlookers were devouring the dexterity of Mike Stroud and his six-string electric melody maker.

Evan Mast-the man behind the man behind the hair-at times seemed like he wanted a louder instrument to play, as his bass skills were clearly overshadowed by the ecstatic antics of Stroud and their hired keyboardist and cheerleader. Mast did have his moments, however, on songs like "Loud Pipes" and "Kennedy," where he could show off some rhythmic rumblings.

In the end, the impressive crowd turnout was a salute to Superb and the risk they took in bringing indie sweethearts and fearless freaks to Sproul. For a band with so little mainstream attention, the overall reaction from the present student body was refreshingly open-minded and electric.

After asking Stroud if he could describe Ratatat's live experience in one word, he proudly exclaimed "Orgasm" without hesitation. Godspeed, you emaciated knights of electrodom.


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