Beards, Blazers & Glasses: The Rapture Bury Dance Punk
I never really got into the Rapture. It wasn't actually their fault. I blame it on the whoever the music writer was that coined the label "dance-punk." To me, "dance punk" always sounded like something that Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen would yell at Marty McFly, not a type of "life changing music" rumored to cause world peace, cure polio, and lower your miniature golf score, all in one fell dance-punking swoop. It was as though, with "dance-punk," the Rapture themselves were personally responsible for getting hipsters to dance, which in turn has caused me the misfortune of actually having to watch hipsters dance. Thanks dudes.
But last year when The Rapture dropped their excellent third record, Pieces of the People We Love, I finally saw why everyone liked these guys in the first place. Of course, dance-punk didn't end up curing polio (merely acne) so all the web mags snubbed it come year-end list time, despite the fact that Pieces was way less self-serious, way more organic and way better than Echoes. The lyrics were still sort of retarded (High / High as the sky / Low / Low as a ghost / Purple dragons fly into your eyes / Milkshake shimmy cry and cry and cry)." But no one really listens to bands like The Rapture for the lyrics anyway.
Early in their career, the Rapture apparently had a rep for being terrible live, but you'd never know it now, with the four-piece seeming polished, self-assured and ridiculously funky on-stage, turning the Mayan Theater into a packed, sweltering dance party. The guitars were hard, the drums harder and they had a guy alternating between the sax-a-mophone and the cowbell. I couldn't complain. Stripped of the cumbersome, unrealistic expectations and media attention that had the Rapture leading a dance-punk movement stretching all the way from Williamsburg to Park Slope, the Rapture have matured into a pretty awesome band.
Little Known Fact: The Album Cover Was Designed by a Team of Gay Four Year Olds on Mescaline
If you ran into these guys on the street, you'd never have a clue that they were among the most soulful white boys in music. Front-man Luke Jennner looks like Topher Grace after six bong rips, while bassist/vocalist Matt Safer channels Rick Moranis circa Ghostbusters 1. But they gives you no nonsense about accounting, Dana Barret or being "the Keymaster," instead they shuffle across the stage, guitars strapped to their shoulders, owning the crowd and letting off some wailing pinched-nerve vocals that can only come from a man wearing his pants much too tight.
The set drew heavily from the most recent record and the band sounded great, flicking off fast rumbling guitar licks, lightning drums, jazzy sax bursts, and of course, a fever that could only be quelled by more cowbell. The Rapture love the cow bell, but honestly, can you blame them? Not I. The songs themselves sounded fantastic, to the point of where I'm reasonably convinced that Ford could resurrect its flagging fortunes if they used "First Gear" in their next advertising campaign.
So believe the hype. The Rapture are the real deal four years after they were the real deal, a band that were so overrated that they're now actually really underrated. If I've lost you at this juncture, it's probably because I've lost myself in the process. But my point, if I have one, is that now that the dance-punk has been placed into its form-fitting, vintage grave, the Rapture are starting to look more and more like the band everyone thought they'd turn out to be. So dance, McFly dance!
MP3: The Rapture-"First Gear"
MP3: The Rapture-"Pieces of the People We Love"