Rat BoyInvisible Wind Factory 9/11/18
It seems a wave of indie rap is barrelling towards us, yet again. Injecting indie anthems with a dose of rap and hip hop has produced an irresistible cocktail time after time. Well, maybe more of a cider and blackcurrant. The likes of The Streets and Jamie T perpetuated this merry blend, and now as these two artists are at a crossroads their careers, the next batch of genre-hoppers have arrived and are ready to get the crowds bouncing once more. At the forefront of this movement is the laid-back skater boi RATBOY (Jordan Cardy). As he bounds onto the stage with his gang of more than merry men, the appropriately stripped back yet extravagant setting of Invisible Wind Factory awaits to see what the new generation has to offer.
However, the air is not heavy with anticipation; the crowd is not brimming with suspense. Instead, the young audience are quiet, struggling to fill the expansive venue, and the air remains cool and crisp due to the vast spaces and open side doors that are attracting the winter wind from outside. Perhaps because of these unusually cool conditions, or perhaps because it is only around 8.30 as he walks out, either way, it doesn’t quite feel like the room is ready for the dense textures that Ratboy has to offer. Yet, after barely 30 seconds pass of his new full-throttle single CHIP ON MY SHOULDER, these pre-gig qualms have been quelled; the crowd are dancing wildly in a claustrophobic frenzy. With my chest compressed by the hundreds of bodies around me and my hoody rapidly becoming an unwanted accessory in the heat, the unnatural feeling I held before the show has completely vanished; I feel right at home.
Barring the recurring technical issues with Jordan’s guitar, the songs begin to flow from one to the next and it becomes clear why his music has gathered such a devoted following. Ratboy’s sound manages to drop itself right in the middle of a cultural void; bridging the gap between the indie gig-goers, and those who indulge in club life. The heavy riffs and sing-a-long chorus are complemented by an onstage DJ who’s spinning fast-paced samples. This brings a unique vibrancy to the room; it brings together every person in attendance, whatever their tastes.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Ratboy’s upbeat, summer anthems would land incongruously on the dimly lit factory landscape. However, the live tracks seem to soak up the industrial surroundings of the venue’s walls. They proceed to bounce back with an added dose of punk energy. As he enters the penultimate song of the night, FAKE ID, the vibe is becoming increasingly raucous. The testosterone-fuelled moshpits leave me lying face down on the ground, awaiting the kind hand of a stranger, someone to drag me up by my once surplus hood. The entire atmosphere of the room is captured in the lyrics “take my mp3 illegally and move”; everyone is here to listen to enjoy good music and good vibes. They don’t give a fuck.
The final few moments of the set leave me pumped up, high on primal release. There is no encore, simply a final 30-second instrumental extension to LEFT 4 DEAD that pummels the punk spirit inside the audience with a grand crescendo. The band exit the stage, leaving the spinning sign, the hollowed out buggy, and the looming balconies of the Invisible Wind Factory shaking. They have demonstrated just the concoction that ignites the youth, and perhaps revealed the path that indie-rock advocates must now travel down if they are to keep their beloved genre marching on.