Rats On Rafts : photo by Alex Staszko
Rats On Rafts : photo by Alex Staszko

Rats On Rafts
Manchester Night & Day
Oct 25th 2012
Live Review

Rats On Rafts photo by Alex Staszko
other Rats On Rafts images by MCR Photographer

Rats On Rafts : photo by Alex Staszko
Rats On Rafts : photo by Alex Staszko

On Thursday night, Night & Day Café in Manchester belonged to Louder Than War, hosting an evening of music previously heralded and supported by the website and its label, giving its readers a chance to see what we’ve been going on about for so long.

Dutch post-punk outfit and Louder Than War favourite, Rats on Rafts were the headline act last night, giving Manchester’s Northern Quarter another reason to be the one of the best places to see new music in Manchester. Already growing in reputation within the music press and radio, the band are destined for something a little bigger, especially in the UK.

Night & Day Café might just be the perfect venue for a band such as this, a small audience, but one that is open to listening and taking in the atmosphere and most importantly the music. Due to some switching around with supports, I made a little mistake thinking that Rats On Rafts were actually the support band, being only newly introduced the band myself. It says a lot that I was stunned at how exceptional the “support band” were.

I was thinking there was something extremely clever about their style of music. Whether intentional or not, the clever thing about Rats On Rafts is their ability to affiliate themselves with both familiarity and obscurity simultaneously. Although they don’t sound specifically like a punk band, the elements you hear are there, the plodding bass and the tempo of the music. However, they drag the tracks out, elongating the style usually played by punk artists, shifting the style subtly using tempo change whilst still paying homage to the music that they are so clearly inspired by.

In parts, they have the melodic style of British rock bands of the late 80s and early 90s, almost similar to The Stone Roses or Suede. In others they are dark and heavy, changing the tempo in a very subtle but gifted way. As well as tempo, they play with the idea of contrast more often than not, quite often using the quiet-loud method that is attributed with the grunge scene in the states. Lead singer David Fagan is not afraid to sing, nor is he afraid to scream. As I say, they really know how to do contrast well.

Their aesthetic appeal is something that does not transfer well when listening to them at home. As a live act on Thursday night they seemed to be synchronised in terms of mood as if they were feeling the most intense elements of their music at exactly the same time. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to watch a band that are totally immersed in the music itself. All four elements complement one another, the distorted guitar, the vocal echoes, the basslines that everything they play is built upon, and the drummer who just simply does not stop moving at great speeds when required to.

Rats On Rafts are simply a brilliant band. Killing the set off with a 20 minute, seemingly-improvised track, they played through it, changing the tempo and playing with the audience as to when the track would end. With the right radio play and the right introduction into the music scene, this band could be huge in Britain. They fit the same description as The Horrors or Toy with psychedelic obscurity whilst still maintaining a pop appeal, and striving to put twists and turns within already established genres. Rats On Rafts’ success is most definitely to follow.

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Manchester-based writer and promoter. Currently putting on gigs for Glass Onion. Contact me at joshnicol@live.co.uk. Follow me at @JDNicol.


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