In between their Coachella performances, during the week aptly named #ChellainPhx, New York Rock Experimentalists Ratatat performed at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe Arizona. Playing to a nearly sold out show, Ratatat brought fans of all ages, seriously there were several fans under the age of ten seen grooving to the sounds of Wildcat and Lex.
Though doors opened at 6:30pm with a reported show time of 8pm and no listed opener it wasn’t until around 8:30 pm until emerging Queens, NY hip hop artist Despot came strolling out. Announcing his ongoing works with Ratatat as producers and contributors to his forthcoming debut album, Despot was able to blend a sound that could be best described as Eminem with… well with Ratatat. I never knew that this was something missing in my life, but this realization is a great one to have, and it has excitedly open the potential to exploring other mash-ups I may have never considered… Deep-fried peanut butter and calamari… A modern remake of the 80’s classic Twins with Tom Waits and Christopher Walken… Ok that last one really does sound awesome but I digress. Despot’s rhymes and flow worked well with that familiar Neo-Psychedelia Rock of Ratatat we’ve all become enamored with. Throughout his set there was slight undertone of self-depreciation, this appeared to be a defense mechanism to potential stage-fright, or merely awkwardly placed humor; as an awkward person I appreciated it regardless of the motivating reason behind it. At one point Despot took poll from the audience asking, “Who wants to hear some more tracks? Applaud!” where the customary cheers and jeers came from the crowd. He then followed this up with a, “And who’s tired of me and wants me to get off the stage?” where there was a slightly louder collection of cheers. His response was priceless as his smile turned to a sly chagrin, and his excitement turned into a controlled, “well f**k you, I’m gonna play anyway!”
Throughout Despot’s performance, there were two large Plexiglas stands that stood like sentries guarding the stage from an onslaught of unsuspecting vegetables—at least this was my initial thought. Soon their real purpose would be revealed. After all the equipment had been set up and tested, the lights dimmed, and everyone’s excitement shot into full scale. A lone video on repeat that read RATATAT began to be displayed on the back wall. This was it… or at least everyone thought. After waiting for a few moments, breath abated, excitement slowly started to transform into frustration, and it was at that moment Ratatat took to the stage. As Mike Stroud and Evan Mast a.k.a. Ratatat began to play, light began to flicker through the large Plexiglas and *POOF* out came intricately displayed holograms. Sure this may not have been on par with Tupac at Coachella a few years ago, but it’s still impressive regardless.
Prior to this performance of Ratatat, my only experience in watching them was a short-lived glimpse at 2011 Sasquatch performance. Unfortunately due to extenuating circumstances that involved, a Mario Kart themed excursion and festival security being less than enthused with exploding turtle shells Ratatat was sadly missed. Now was the time to make up for that misfortune. Watching Ratatat perform in a closed venue is nothing like seeing them at an open-air festival. The lasers, the lights, the blankets of smoky sights, it really is an impressive display.
As Ratatat’s touring schedule is intermittent at best catching a live performance of theirs is beyond difficult, even with all the festivals out there trying to draw them onto their lineups; so catching a standalone show of theirs is not anything I ever imagined. It was truly an experience that should be shared by anyone wanting to by blinded by the lights.