Better than...listening to Hurry Up, We're Dreaming on the best stereo system turned up to eleven.
Last night Club Nokia was fit to burst for M83's sold out show. After being shuttled up an escalator, lovingly frisked by the stern security men, and sent through their metal detectors, most people needed a stiff drink. They squawked loudly around the bar, shaking their plumage like birds of paradise trying to impress a mate, trying to get the bartenders attention with varying degrees of success. Then armed with their cocktails, they stared at the black void of the stage while ominous organ music trickled out of the speakers.
At ten o'clock precisely M83 took the stage. The stark blue lights made it feel like an alien abduction, apt for a band named after the Messier 83 galaxy. But if they were creatures from outer space, all of them were dressed very subtly in t-shirts of black or white except for singer/keyboardist Morgan Kibby, who sparkled in a silver cocktail dress.
Despite confessing to being nervous in such a large venue, lead singer and musical architect Anthony Gonzalez looked incredibly relaxed as he began the set with the aptly named "Intro." (Honestly if you've got a song named Intro in your repertoire aren't you obligated to play it first?). Gonzalez had every right to be relaxed, because this crowd adored him.
After eleven years since their first record, M83 has broken through to the mainstream thanks to one killer single "Midnight City" and its use by one tiny little lingerie company called Victoria's Secret. It was easy to be jealous of those who were unfamiliar with M83 aside from that single, because they had no idea what was going to hit them. Watching their jaws drop as wave after wave of explosive joyous sound radiated from the stage was a real pleasure.
M83 manages to fuse together dance synth pop and heavy head banging guitar riffs so organically that it feels like the two sounds were born from the same womb. Playing with the dichotomy between delicate chimes and blistering heat, the band manages to pump new life into their music that is unreachable on their albums. Maybe it's the sweat, maybe it's the bass, maybe it's the floorboards threatening to buckle under the weight of the dancers' frenzied steps, but the set breathed as if it were its own creature and M83 was just trying to contain it.
Personal bias: I fell in love with M83 at Lollapalooza in 2005. After they played "Teen Angst," it was all over.
The Crowd: A giant swath of humanity, but probably could be most successfully described by this interaction: there were girls in corsets, heels, and fur coats looking pityingly at the girls in t-shirts and sneakers. Meanwhile, the girls in t-shirts and sneakers looking pityingly at the girls who chose to wear corsets and fur.
Overheard in the crowd: "Oh my God! Is that Jesus?" (It wasn't.)
Random Notebook dump: The crowd's hands outstretched ready to be showered with liquid joy. Too pornographic?
Set list below:
Kim & Jesse
Year One, One UFO
We Own The Sky
This Bright Flash
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Guitar & A Heart