Rats On Rafts - Kargadoor, Utrecht, 09 September 2011

All I can tell you is that I walked away from the gig wishing I had the ability and the means to follow them to Nijmegen, where they were due to play a second show that evening and then onwards and beyond. This may not have been a great gig but, my word, they’re one hell of a band.

 

 

www.ratsonrafts.com


Quality shines through. In fact, it can make you forget and forgive quite a bit. Let's be honest here, no one would honestly be able to tell you that this was a great gig. There simply wasn't enough of a crowd to develop any kind of atmosphere and the vaulted low ceiling of Kargadoor's basement room turned the sound of the band into a scuzzy, cluttered and unrefined noise. Besides the general scuzziness, the bass was far too low in the mix, which dimmed the power and groove of many of the tracks and the vocals weren't much better. So, you can see, there were a number of things working against the band; a selection of minor issues that dulled the full impact of thier performance. Essentially the gig felt like witnessing a band rehearsal but, do you know what? None of that matters. Despite all of the things going against them, Rats on Rafts still pulled out a winner. First off, they attacked the gig; playing fast, fierce and full of energy. Second of all, they've got some great songs to back that energy up.


The group of students in attendance, who had been lulled into a false sense of security thanks to the God awful singer songwriter that came before them, were initially shocked at the power and VOLUME of the band but within minutes those that had initially backed away from the band in fear started to inch ever closer. Heads bobbed at first, then shoulders began to sway, then some feet were tapped and by the end most of those things were happening at once, which of course meant that they were dancing. The queue for merchandise at the end of this gig paid testament to how well they came across, if  nothing else but let me take a line or two to elaborate.


Rats on Rafts have got it. Whatever 'it' is, whether it's charm, talent, cheek, power, belief or charisma, this band have got it and they have it in spades. The four of them look like they're in bands, although admittedly they do look like they're in different bands from each other. Impressively, they're all around the same height and, although I'm not entirely sure why that makes a difference, it seems to add to their overall look and, what's more, there isn't a weak link in their armoury. They can all play and they can all play well. The drummer Joris Frowein (cool name) is relentless, a machine of a lad capable of turning something simple into something memorable with a quick change of pad or cymbal. The bass player (Florian Veenhuis – very cool name) is probably the fulcrum of the band, carving out some canny grooves and providing a soothing contrast to the rest of their sound. The guitar player (Arnoud Verheul) is sharp and precise, with a real Andy Gill-ness about him and he's ably supported by the front man,(David Fagan) who's axe wielding skills stand up alongside his impressive, dynamic vocal performances. Their tunes are infectious, their sound an intoxicating mix of Liverpool New Wave, Madchester baggy, Two Tone and a few Factory favourites besides. They sound much older and wiser than they appear to be and that’s simply because they’ve got that unmistakeable quality that only the bands who are worth getting real excited about have. They’ve got an energy about them, a ‘vibe’ as they used to say that just commands your attention. They’ve got the sound, they’ve got the look and you get the impression that, if given the right platform, they could well be headed for much more rewarding venues than this one.  


All I can tell you is that I walked away from the gig wishing I had the ability and the means to follow them to Nijmegen, where they were due to play a second show that evening and then onwards and beyond. This may not have been a great gig but, my word, they’re one hell of a band.
Don’t you think it’s about time you started paying attention?