Words by Beth Madden.
The elegant backdrop of Albert Hall heightens the brash anarchy that is Rat Boy. Whilst the balcony area remains sparse, the action is downstairs, as hungry teenage fans pack themselves in ready for some angst-fuelled moshing.
The set has a slow start. It’s an anti-climax considering the hype that follows Rat Boy around, evident in the expensive stage production. His oversold punk attitude, along with minimal communication with the crowd (he only ever speaks up to command a “jump” or “spread out” to form a pit), makes him seem awkward and inexperienced. Having only released the record deal-earning The Mixtape in 2014, it begs the question whether this rapid ascent to fame has caused him to miss out on the practice required for a good live show.
With an onset of fan favourites, however, the band find their stride. As the twangs of ‘Sign On’ echo, one band member has climbed up to the balcony, whilst carnage ensues on stage, and all rules have been thrown out of those lovely stained glass windows. Suddenly, the mere fact that an artist can have fan favourites, including ‘Move’ and ‘Fake ID’, after such a short amount of time becomes impressive rather than inexperienced.
The Jamie T comparison, as referenced in ‘Get Over It’, is an apt but lazy one, and to stop there would be an injustice to Rat Boy. Seeing him live showcases an eclectic range of styles and influences, including the punk attitude of The Clash and the same bored narrative lyricism of The Streets. As the gig progresses, it becomes clear that his lack of communication with the audience is intentional. His sole aim is to impassion them.
Rat Boy perfectly serves the purpose of teenage rebellion – he wants to anger, rile and encourage people to question the norm. He is the antithesis to the inoffensive pop acts that are everywhere, and he is here to shake things up.
The gig took place on Saturday 17 September, 2016, at Albert Hall.