You know, it's not really a real concert experience until you get punched in the chest, have a crowd surfer land on your head four different times, get your right foot punctured by a stiletto, see two fistfights over who gets to be in the front row, and almost get kicked out of the venue for taking pictures. That, my friends, is true music at its finest.
I took my friend Stuart to see the double headliners Ratatat and The Faint play at Mezzanine. Immediately when we popped out of the cab, I could see this was going to be a seriously packed show. The gig was being sponsored by Camel, who had given away free tickets to the show much like one of those free screening passes for movies. 200 tickets had been sold at the 1,100-capacity place, and rumor was that over 2,000 passes had been given away for the event; those waiting to get in stood in a line that snaked down Jessie Street. As we navigated ourselves to find another friend inside, I was trying to comprehend how any more people could possibly fit into Mezzanine.
At 9:45 the sheer brilliance that is Ratatat took the stage. Stuart had been the one to introduce me to the NYC electro duo a few months ago, and why these boys never crossed my radar before is unbeknownst to me. For only having two LPs out there were sure lots of people freaking out to their tracks. Additionally, for having no lyrics or vocals in their songs besides an occasional pre-recorded piece here and there, Ratatat have more to prove, more to show in terms of how much they can do. Guitarist Mike Stroud and producer Evan Mast brought in a third dude to balance out the synth as they played tunes from both their self-titled first album and Classics, released this year on XL.
The first record was full of urgent, hard-hitting bass lines over heavy synth; the second record encompasses more dance-friendly tunes as well as a softer look at smooth, vibrant blips in keys. Selections from both were showcased to the max at Mezzanine, and this here writer couldn't help but dance out some serious moves to "Lex" and break-out hit "Seventeen Years." Stroud's hair whipping back and forth as he shredded some serious action, distortions and loud drum loops that boomed under my feet, all at the same time. During set closer and my personal favorite "Gettysburg," an impatiently versed, well-orchestrated, and fantastic interlude of a song, Stroud bent back during the crescendo of the song to wail on his guitar and ended up falling on his back - without missing a single note. Those in the crowd seemed very receptive to Ratatat if this was their first meeting, and those who were all about them to begin with were stoked to the T.
It's important to note that the crowd during this time was having quite a lovely time. Stuart, I, and my friend Kristin were able to have a quality dance experience, with enough room to put up our hands and click our feet.
When Ratatat finished, however, Poseidon got angry and caused a tidal wave of people to push themselves to the front. Stuart elected to stand in the back by the bar (smart move) while Kristin and I wanted to be close to Todd Baeschle and co. While waiting the 20 minutes during set change, two dudes in black outfits duked it out in front of us for the coveted front row position - one even yelling "What the fuck dude, we've been here since 6!" Two girls were exchanging nasty words about the other's hair (no freakin' kidding), and a couple behind us asked if we wanted a swig off a tall, snuck-in Stoli Razz bottle.
When the Faint took their assigned posts, the pushing started. And part of me wanted to believe us over 21 have better concert etiquette - I mean, we can gamble and drink and join the military, but we don't apologize to each other while stepping on each other's toes and hearing "Desperate Guys." I took three pictures before giving up on trying again - earlier during Ratatat's set, I was threatened to be booted out for snapping photos, which caused a bit of bemusement on my part - two girls directly to my right and the guy in front of me had been shutter bugging seconds before I was ousted.
The Omaha gang, who had written on their web site this West Coast tour was "to escape abominable Nebraska weather," debuted new tracks off a new album due in March as well as gave us a taste of their amazing catalogue - old favorites "Glass Danse" and set closer "Agenda Suicide," as well as "Paranoiattack" and "I Disappear" from the most recent record, Wet From Birth. The new material sounds more indie rock and less electronic, which is not cause for immediate sadness - it still feels and sounds like the Faint. I wouldn't say it would be an evolution in sound for them just yet, but live it's a gem.
Baeschle continually thanked the crowd as the band progressed into their hour and a half set, which I found to be sort of ironic on my part as a concert attendee. I was getting squished by huge dudes on either side of me, which still didn't stop me and Kristin from convulsing to "Call Call" and "Drop Kick The Punks," the latter of which brought about a thought that went something like this: "I seriously might die in this pit." The guy who had chugged that Stoli bottle earlier was slam dancing to my left and I kept getting punched in the chest and side area by him and the others around me who pushed and shoved their way around. For the record, I don't approve of that method of dancing; it hurts people. Four crowd surfers glided across my head, two of which fell directly on it. My toes hurt so bad from being stepped on every second verse I thought my right big one was bleeding (in actuality, it was from the sweat and beer poured into my Mary Jane-style slip-ons). In the end when I found Stuart in the back, we checked my feet and I saw the fresh nail polish from Monday's manicure had been ripped off some of my toes. He offered me a cigarette as I tried to regain my composure: the entirety of my hair was soaked, my skirt unbuttoned, the top of my shirt undone, and a section of my fishnets, on the inside part of my right thigh, was ripped. It looked like I either had emerged from the best or worst sex of my life. His smirk was well deserved.
As I type, I currently own: a bruise on the right side of my back under my bra strap; a sore spot/forming bruise on my left tricep; a nice little stiletto impression on top of my right foot, and a sore neck. It's safe to say that the crowd went batshit fucking insane for the Faint, and it's not without merit. They owned Tuesday night.
by Jenn Hernandez
Faint photos by The Faint