The Rapture w/ Foreign Born – [Live]

Monday, 30 July 2007

"It's a contributory factor to epilepsy. It's the biggest destructor in the history of education. It's a jungle cult. It's what the Watusis do to whip up a war. What I see in the discos with people jogging away is just what I've seen in the bush."
-Harvey Wood, Director General of the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation, on disco (1979)

Harvey Wood (who is a square and a racist) speaks of disco disparagingly for the reasons outlined above, and it is the promise of these precise reasons that the Mayan Theater shook, packed to the brim, hipster epilepsy at its quavering finest. While this—the sounds of Foreign Born and the Rapture—ain't no disco, the night fulfilled each of Wood's apprehensions with wild steppin', carrying both disco's energy and effect, without the corniness, for all to see.

Aside from the blog buzz, this was my first time experiencing Foreign Born's sound and I could immediately sense a familiarity to the band. Spearheaded by Matt Popieluch's yawp, comparable in cathartic vocal exclamations to Win Butler, Foreign Born played a solid set of energetic indie rock that started slow to quiet audiences and gained momentum, delivering a heavy final kick as a spur to an evening of mayhem. Traced by their own signature percussive shakes, not to mention the ever-shaking leg on Popieluch, Foreign Born's rock-out strength lies in the small and unique ways the band paces itself. Measuring out deliberated meters and singing out in an emotional hesitance reminiscent of 90s Brit Pop, Foreign Born drives forth surging but unhurried. All the while, the members of Foreign Born collect through communal rhythm making, inevitably leading the audience to the call for claps and bringing us along-side their thunderous stride. Although it wasn't a dancey set list, the group's final song, "Union Hall," off their upcoming album On The Wing Now (Dim Mak), was a tramping Western tune buried in layers of jangling percussion, and if there were ever a possibility for encores after an opening act, Foreign Born would've emerged one cigarette later to tambourine-stomp one more round.

I'm not quite sure how war cries function in the Watusi tribe, but American war cries are shrieked at a point of charging to give the scariest sound possible. It makes the crier feel deadly and the ones paying heed fear dying. The Rapture consist of four members: there's one guitar, one bass, one drum set, and one guy who plays cowbell, saxophone and synth. But the rhythm section is mainly three dudes, two of whom sing alternately in addition to their orchestral duties. And for such a sparse set up, The Rapture are really fucking loud. Set to the backdrop of Vito Roccoforte stick-slamming, barreling drumbeat, Luke Jenner shrieks. It could be mistaken for a war cry. In the days of the Civil War, Jenner would've been a captain or general. A salient bass line marks the melody and bookends each measure, and like a skeleton made of stone, the drum and bass stack like boulders to create a rough-hewn spine for the Rapture's songs. And the effect? Savagery. Well, not quite. Who taught the Rapture how to dance? Because those boys can move. Jungle cult or not, the seizures and slow-pulsed nonstop feet movement could be perceived as savagery. In historical context, dance punk and music alike aren't received with moral wariness anymore. Nonetheless, I can see Harvey Wood's wariness. War cry and jungle cult alike, dancing and even listening to The Rapture is definitely an experience not for the weak.

More on The Rapture:

More on Foreign Born:

Comments are closed.