The Rapture at The Basement
Rapture shows have a reputation as wild dance parties populated by previously self-conscious indie rock listeners letting their hair down and cutting loose. The band's performance last night at The Basement didn't exactly inspire Broadway musical choreography, but the NYC band kept heads bobbing and hips swinging for the duration.
You know a band wants you to shake your groove thing when it has a member whose almost full-time job is playing the cowbell. Thankfully, in the years since the Rapture started this thing, it has honed its methods. Ditching the mood pieces and most of the rock-oriented material from its past, the band never played a thing that couldn't be described as a dance number. Admirably, though the songs inevitably had some similarities, the band spiced each selection up enough that they blurred together only as much as songs in a good DJ set should. Surprisingly, the biggest hit, "House of Jealous Lovers," came a few songs before the end of the main set. I can see how they might want to deflate anticipation for it... wait, no, I can't. Luckily, the show didn't suffer too much from the band's sequencing choices.
The location of the show had a profound effect on how it played out. This was my first trip to the Basement, and its close confines made for a show that was tightly packed but not all that intimate. Perhaps I felt that way because I showed up late thanks to a work function and ended up watching the band from behind. Fortunately, the band puts on a solid show, so I was able to enjoy it even if I never really felt like a part of it. Even if I had a front-row spot, though, the whole thing probably would have still felt slightly surreal. I mentioned last summer that the Phoenix/French Kicks show made me feel like Little Brother's had tranformed into the Bait Shop, the ultra-stylized, fictional venue on The OC. That concert's Bait Shop essence had nothing on this one. The Basement likely intends to convey that atmosphere, and judging by the packed house and smiling teenage faces, it seems to be working for the place.
As enjoyable as the set was, it also felt like a bit of a relic. My friend Fred joked recently that the Rapture will be seen on VH1's I Love the 00s, and he may be right. The group will forever be tied to the dance-punk movement that seemed set to take over indie rock five years ago but ultimately fizzled. But as long as the Rapture throws such a great party, it will always have an audience to look forward to, even if it's on the nostalgia circuit.