The ecstasy of The Rapture

The Rapture, Tugboat Fantastic
Barbati’s Pan
May 11, 9 p.m.
21+, $8 adv, $10 door
Over the tumultuous course of their first two releases, 1999’s Mirror and 2001’s Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks, the Rapture ditched keyboards, found a new bassist, relocated at least once and enjoyed a dedicated, yet somewhat premature, hipster following. These releases showed a band with huge potential, made especially clear when Matt Safer’s thick, funky basslines entered the mix, attempting to pinpoint their own sound among the lingering echoes of their obvious influences.

Slowly, in the spaces allowed by their constant tour schedule, the group began to work through their identity crisis. Set-lists began to eschew the manic screech of their studio recordings for the more groove-oriented tracks found on their Insound Tour Support EP. And just last year the group recorded a single, “House of Jealous Lovers,” with revered production team DFA that turned heads and signaled a serious shift toward tempering the Rapture’s frantic energy with dance-floor intuition and cohesive structure.

In addition to forging a new musical direction, the group has also added a new member, Gabe Andruzzi, on saxophone and percussion, which has stirred up much excitement among people who are excited by such things. Placing two of the all-time grooviest, most misused instruments in the rock arsenal in the hands of one person in an already great band almost freaks me out.

In addition to the familiar sounds of a rock trio, including the drummer’s “thwack,” the bassist’s “ba-da-da” and the guitarist’s post-punk-influenced “eeh-eeh-eeh,” some new sounds – in fact, two of the all-time greatest musical sounds ever – will be provided by the saxophone, specifically “skronk” and “bleat.” When Andruzzi isn’t skronking and bleating all over the Rapture’s repertoire, he will be accentuating Vito Roccoforte’s already driving beats with the classic “tok-tok” of the cowbell.

At this point, any fan of music should be gripping the paper with excitement, ink-stained knuckles otherwise white, because this addition is the most promising move that this always promising group has yet made. Up to this point, the Rapture’s following has always been based more on potential than actualization, as the group hinted at sounds and styles that were never fully explored. But Andruzzi has the potential to change all of this. With any luck, a factor in the delay of their long-awaited full-length, Echoes, has been the addition of Andruzzi on those pre-sax and bell recordings. Because after audiences have witnessed the augmented group, a Druzz-less recording could be a serious letdown, despite how the Rapture have succeeded as a three-piece.

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