Cut Copy and Washed Out
October 12, 2011
Better than... Kanye's Workout Plan.
Summer and all its carefree sentiments may be behind us, but a look at L.A.'s concert circuit this month would tell you otherwise. From The Rapture to the Culture Collide fest to last night's Cut Copy and Washed Out show at the Palladium, the city's been hit by one sweaty, joyous dance party after another.
Opening act Washed Out proved to be a good appetizer for the evening's electro feast, with all the hazy, dark synths that are central to Cut Copy's appeal, but slowed down and dreamier. The Georgia-based chillwave outfit is technically the solo moniker of doe-eyed laptop-tinkerer Ernest Greene, but last night Washed Out performed with no fewer than five musicians. That kind of attention to instrumentation breathed new rhythmic life into Greene's debut, Within and Without, which as a record struggles to be more than just really pleasant background music.
Divided among three synth/key pads, a bass and live drums, the thought and orchestration Greene puts into his songs was much more audibly apparent and did well to set him apart in a genre that struggles with an epidemic of flatness and simplicity. Thanks to that live kit, Washed Out was able to get you moving even if your drugs hadn't kicked in yet, making Wednesday night feel more like Friday.
Cut Copy's set, meanwhile, was like the best Saturday nights you've ever had. And I don't just mean a night out at da club -- it was a kind of contagious euphoria and total ease that's more akin to a celebratory night out with your closest friends than standing in concert hall filled with strangers. And, of course, it helps that the Melbourne-based electro-rock quartet looked like they were having a great time onstage. It's admittedly tricky to rock out with a sampler, but they proved to be terrific showmen, with just the right amount of choreographed swagger blended into their candid dance moves.
During encore "Need You Now," guitarist Tim Hoey climbed atop the drum kit and savaged a hi-hat with a stick as the song came to its exhilarating climax. Also of particular note was frontman and keyboardist Dan Whitford, who in terms of both looks and performance was an uncanny combination of Simon Le Bon and Jarvis Cocker (in their respective heydays, of course).
The boys played a selection heavy on tracks from both their sophomore In Ghost Colours and their latest release, February's Zonoscope, with a lean towards the latter. Zonoscope is less of an animal-instinct dance record than Colours, which was born from the 2008 music scene's obsession with electro, and Whitford has cited both African funk and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk as heavy influences on the new album.
While subtle and complex on record, their tribal drums and rhythms transitioned seamlessly onstage into a high-energy live show. While a band this fun and magnetic live generally does better in a smaller venue, where their intensity can be amplified, Cut Copy still managed to compellingly control the crowd. Whitford's relentless commands of "Let's dance!" "Okay, now let's dance!" and "Are you ready to dance?" erred on the side of cheesy/cliché, but he meant it, and galvanized the crowd into a single dancing, pogo-ing, grinning, cheering entity -- it was like all the best parts of a rave, without the bad clothes and annoying tweekers.
The crowd: People in high school and vaguely-hip corporate desk job types in their 30s, who enjoy cocaine. Also, lots of cute fashionable couples.
Overheard in the crowd: "This was amazing, but not as good as their show at the Music Box."
Critical bias: I've never done ecstasy, but I'm pretty sure this was close.
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Random notebook dump: Feet hurt. Abs hurt. Butt and legs will hurt come winter. I want to go to this show over and over again.
Set list below: