The Rapture | 02.06.07

Through the lens of a snow gnome, the lower energy level was appropriate for a snowy Tuesday evening in the Midwest.

 

w/Under the Influence of Giants and Locksley
Birdy's, Indianapolis

Snow, snow, snow, and more snow. That's what Indianapolis was getting the day that Locksley, Under the Influence of Giants, and the Rapture came to town. The few brave souls who risked unplowed streets were rewarded for their inadvisable behavior with a nice, cozy show.

The only thing I knew about Locksley before the show was that they were from Brooklyn, as I learned from a local weekly paper. Apparently accuracy isn't important in rock 'n' roll, as Locksley informed us they were from Wisconsin. Must've been because they played a mostly cheesy set of extremely short retro-pop songs in the style of exactly-what-you'd-expect-from-a-retro-styled-indie-rock-band. They dressed in the style of 21st-century-Beatles-meet-AC/DC-or-Jet, and I think the singer was actually the young George Harrison. As a bonus, the lead guitarist had the Paul McCartney smiley side-to-side head bob down pat. "George" didn't disappoint me with lyrics such as, "Nobody does it like she does." Background vocals were provided by "Paul," with the bass player chiming in with "Oh, oh oh," and so forth. Locksley is a very tight band…so tight I thought I was hearing a beer commercial. The majority of the crowd had yet to show up by the time the band ended their set by bowing in unison. Wow.

I had to think that perhaps my assessment of Locksley was wrong. Locksley took the retro so far that I started to think that maybe I missed the point. Perhaps they aren't trying to tread new ground or be themselves at all. If I had expected an homage, perhaps I could have just enjoyed a well-played set of rock 'n' roll. But then again, if the chemistry had really sizzled, I'm sure I would have gotten a different impression, as I did when I heard the Pages a few years ago before they got a record deal and changed their name to the Redwalls. So, basically my impression of Locksley was that of a mediocre Redwalls.

I hadn't been especially impressed with Under the Influence of Giants' self-titled debut, as I found them to be a little too commercial with not enough grit and soul. I was, however, impressed with their live chemistry, polish, and overall presentation. These four lads from Los Angeles were a rock trio plus a singer, and sounded like white boys doing a 2007 version of a Michael-Jackson-meets-rock-'n'-roll thing. Where the recordings had sounded overly commercial to me, the live show made me want to groove. It definitely helped that UTIOG have perhaps the coolest bass player on either side of the Mississippi: glasses, long dark hair with beard, a Cosby sweater, and some crazy legs, stepping and walking whilst bustin' out some crazy awesome bass lines.

After several songs, the Giants lost a little energy and delved into some less impressive material. These guys play to a click track and have drum loops accompanying all of the songs, which sounded great at first but was a little overused. Eventually, it felt like the band slipped into a slightly over-rehearsed, not "in the moment" robotic performance. However, with their pro presentation, if these guys keep writing and stumble upon a great song or two, that's all they'd need to get some bigger attention. Well, to keep touring with the Rapture would be a good thing, too!

After UTIOG, I was pumped and ready to shake my white-ass booty to some of the Rapture's grooves. I'd seen them at Curiosa Festival in '04 and thought they gave an energetic and fresh performance. I wondered if their tendency for tempo fluctuations and organic feel would sound big and tight enough after UTIOG's metronomic, electronically supplemented set. As it turns out, they were a little rough and raw as expected, but their creativity and "it" factor definitely shone through.

The Rapture started off with "Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks"—and sounded just like the album. After that, they launched into some of their new material from their latest disc Pieces of the People We Love: "Down for so Long" and "Get Myself Into It." They pretty much owned the new songs, and the Indianapolis crowd, which had finally gathered around the stage, was appreciative. The boys played well on the next several tunes, including "Sister Saviour" and "The Devil."

But perhaps the snow cooled their dance moves a little, as the band members didn't move around so much. Perhaps the snow was affecting the audience, too, as I didn't see as much of the Indianapolis young'uns gettin' down, yo. That's the effect the snow can have. Through the lens of a snow gnome, the lower energy level was appropriate for a snowy Tuesday evening in the Midwest.

Their energy did seem to dip a little too low on their next song, "Pieces of the People We Love," as the boys for some reason seemed to turn away from the crowd. The Rapture didn't come to Indianapolis to disappoint, though, and they turned it around with high-energy, crowd-pleasing performances on their next several songs, including "Killing"—on which most of the audience joined in on shouting, "One, two, three, four/ kick that fucker out the door!" (nicely done, Indianapolis), and then "Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh," "House of Jealous Lovers," and more.

One thing the Rapture does well in comparison to other bands is to effectively switch things up sonically. I've been to so many concerts of artists that I love where I get bored of the sound after a few songs. The Rapture threw in samples, saxophone, the occasional keyboard bass line, and, during the encore, turntables. Unlike some bands that seem to just be showing off their obviously less-honed skills on other instruments, the Rapture proved that they have a depth of interest, inspiration, and experience.

After finishing their set, they excused a slightly weak applause and came out for an encore. They treated the audience, which had not thinned out at all, to "Don Gon Do It," "First Gear," and "Olio." These were satisfactory, and the crowd was pleased.

The Rapture cemented themselves to me as a band that I'll continue to support. These endearing anti-rock stars, with their garage-y, organic approach to dance music, combined with their willingness to embrace the instruments and approaches that most rock bands keep hidden in the studio, are a sign to me that they are not afraid of the future. They know where music has been, and at the same time don't shy away from taking creative risks and using whatever tools they care to to get the job done. What the hell, I'll say it: There are a lot of other bands that could take a lesson or two from the Rapture. | P. David Hazel

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