With Hot Sugar
Bomb Factory, Dallas
Friday, September 25, 2015
Two guitars, two keyboards, two toms and an armada of lasers; these were Ratatat’s weapons of choice at The Bomb Factory Friday night as they played to a packed house. The Brooklyn-based duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast have been at this game for quite a while now, releasing their first album all the way back in 2004. Now on their fifth album Magnifique, released earlier this year, the duo has had many years to hone their craft into exactly how they see its fullest expression. Most importantly, they have some serious bangers — just the thing to get some serious turn up on a Friday night (even if you didn't stick around for the band's after party DJ set).
Ratatat’s premise may be simple, the result is a refreshingly unique creation that fails to be neatly tucked away into any one genre or sound. From the more recent hits “Cream on Chrome,” “Abrasive” and “Supreme”, to more trusted classics “Loud Pipes” and the ferocious growling of “Wildcat” (you know, the Ratatat song) Ratatat was consistently great. However, the consistency may have been a weakness of the performance as well: As the show went on, it seemed that each successive song lost its individuality, and the combo of leg kick to guitar dip grew tiresome after its fourth repetition within the same song.
Don’t misunderstand, however; this was a great show with many memorable moments and energy so catchy you had no choice but to dance. The light show, accompanied by the tailor-made background visuals (which are created by Mast himself), were one of the more impressive to hit The Bomb Factory so far. The sheer scope of musical influence on display was notable as well; with influences ranging from heavy metal riffs, bright pop hooks, chill electronic grooves and steel guitar ballads there was no lack for top-notch musicality.
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Given all that the set had going for it, it seemed that somewhere along the line the direction was lost and the energy plateaued, perhaps even stagnated. The great build never reached a true climax, but the rise was one hell of a fun ride. The show ended unusually early because of the after-party hosted on The Bomb Factory’s balcony, which cost an extra $5 entry fee but was well-attended nonetheless.
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The night was opened by the self-proclaimed “associative electronica” producer Hot Sugar, also known as Nick Koenig. His music combines several unrelated elements from guitar and keyboard to other non-traditional influences to create a unique musical experience. Or, as Koenig said, “my inspiration is everything, you know, it’s universal”.
Following a very similar format to Ratatat, Hot Sugar played his unique blend of associative electronica production backed by homemade visuals. Perhaps it was the technical difficulties with his guitar or the sparse crowd early on, but his set had trouble connecting with the audience.