The Rapture at The Varsity Theater, 9/29/11
Photos by Amy Gee
September 29, 2011
The Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
The Rapture show last night began with Gabriel Andruzzi. The keyboardist and saxophonist is the newest member, and as he waltzed out in pompadoured glory looking like Duckie from "Pretty In Pink," the audience pooled forward. Andruzzi quietly launched into the synth start-up for the title track off of the Rapture's latest album, In The Grace Of Your Love, the lights went up, and the rest of the band ambled out: First Vito Roccoforte then Harris Klahr, the band's touring bassist, and finally frontman Luke Jenner.
The Rapture, despite a four-year hiatus, looked young. Jenner, hair shaggy and clad in a San Diego Padres t-shirt and sneakers, resembled a grad student more than a musician; like your brother who coaches high school baseball, or the guy that fixed your computer.
Let's get one thing clear: The Rapture are agile, they're a band with some years left in them, and frankly they need that. Often credited with heading New York's dance punk revival of the early 2000's, the Rapture has made the choice to come up all over again, to make another run. The band gets to be rediscovered, or you could say they have to be, because a lot of people have forgotten about them.
Roccoforte's crashy drums powered into "In The Grace Of Your Love," the song's bass buzzing through the audience as the scattered crowd huddled in closer. The Rapture know quick cuts, and they've always understood how to keep up the energy in their live shows by rooting it in the rhythm. That energy is best transferred quickly and at a running pace, like passing the baton in a track relay. "In The Grace Of Your Love," switched into "Never Die Again" without much of a pause, then transitioned into "Pieces of The People We Love" in the same fashion. Andruzzi's saxophone barreled in as he twinned it with rickety cowbell chimes, back pedaling in small Latin steps like a salsa dancer. The audience responded accordingly, warming up, beginning to move.
Dominated by tracks off of the Rapture's last two albums, 2006's Pieces Of The People We Love and this year's In The Grace Of Your Love, the show's setlist still managed to scatter in a few crowd favorites from Echoes, and Mirrors. Midway through the lean 65-minute set, things came to a head when Jenner announced the next song was entitled "Whoo Alright," a feverish disco favorite that had the whole crowd shaking defiantly and singing along with the anthemic outro chorus:
"People don't dance no more,
They just stand there like this,
They cross their arms and stare you down,
and drink and moan and piss."
This was quickly followed up with "House Of Jealous Lovers," the dance-punk revival's anthem, and perhaps the Rapture's most famous song. Roccoforte drummed like an athlete, and Duckie/Andruzzi kept up on the cowbell, the two maintaining a high energy as they blazed into "Echoes," another dance track complete with sparse rhythmic entanglements, cowbell, and lots of claps and sing-along shouts.
Photos by Amy Gee
By the time "Olio" got into full gear, Jenner was lost in the audience, running through the crowd with a roadie feeding him mic cable like he was an underwater diver. With no drums or guitar, Andruzzi played a single note on the synth like morse code, and both Roccoforte and Harris Klahr helmed drum machines and samplers. Suddenly it was like that line in LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge," the one about trading in their guitars for turntables and their turntables in for guitars, but then Roccoforte went back to drumming and the song bled into the electro beat of "Come Back To Me," the last song in the set. It finished out soft, and the band jogged off stage. Jenner had a gym towel in his hand, and he looked over his shoulder like someone was about to dump Gatorade on him.
The show's encore begins with "How Deep Is Your Love?," a song that's climax saw the whole audience clapping in unison as they chanted along with the chorus. Luke Jenner did a kind of arms-out airplane dance, and Andruzzi/Duckie was beside him bouncing around in his nimble little Latin steps, clapping like something out of a Baptist church choir. A Baptist church choir with really great drumming. The saxophone outro at the end of "How Deep" wailed schizophrenically, Jenner disappeared as it stole the audience's attention, but then came back, strapping on his guitar before the song had a chance to finish. He gave a quick nod to Vito Roccoforte, the other half of the Rapture that has never left, and they both smiled before launching into "Sail Away," the lead track off of In The Grace, and the last song of the night. Jenner's guitar rang out in "Sail Away," like a constant. It's a cinematic song, epic even, and as it came to a finish, he was in the audience again shaking hands and kissing babies. It was a tight set, a bit over an hour, quick in and quick out. It was damn near perfect.
Photos by Amy Gee
Personal Bias: When The Rapture first exploded, I told all of my friends that I'd just stick to listening to Gang Of Four...It took six years, but I now realize how stupid that statement was.
The Crowd: Elated and ready to shake.
Overheard in the crowd: Holy shit! I touched him! (about Luke Jenner)
Random Notebook Dump: Damn, Duckie can dance!
In the Grace Of Your Love
Never Die Again
Pieces Of The People We Love
Get Myself Into It
Whoo! Alright - Yeah...Uh Huh
House of Jealous lovers
Come Back To Me
How Deep Is Your Love?
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