Dropped by Robert Miller
Photos by James Dechert
It’s been nearly a year since France’s electronic, space-inspired shoegazers M83 last came through Orlando, but it seems like even the ambitious double-LP-attacking frontman Anthony Gonzalez has let the wear of the tour road get to him.
“We finally made it!” Gonzalez said after playing their appropriately titled opening song, “Intro.” “This is our first time in Orlando.”
Me and a big group of people nearby sort of gawked a bit. No it isn’t . . . we all thought, having somehow been cheated out of our experience from nearly a year ago at Downtown Orlando’s Beacham. Now, at the folk-inspired Disney-esque House of Blues, M83 was back with a bigger sound, an even larger light show, and (thankfully) a better view for myself.
Sun Airway were almost always shrouded in darkness during their set.
Philadelphia’s Sun Airway were shrouded mostly in darkness as they rode M83′s light show through their set. Brimming with the kind of atmospheric rock that would most likely conjure up descriptors such as “lush” and “bold,” they mostly struck the same tune for about half an hour. Luckily, it was not a particularly harsh or unaesthetic tune, but it was the same one after another, making it difficult to distinguish one song from the next. Sometimes, openers blow expectations out of the water and even surpass headlining standards. But Sun Airway was simply appropriate and timely.
The near-iconic M83 creature from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was the first on stage at House of Blues.
After an unsurprisingly long set-up, the stage went dark and the red-eyed, snout-touting alien suit that the boy wears on the cover of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming came center stage, spotlights beaming from behind him like Close Encounter of the Third Kind. He
stretched his open hands out to the audience as laser pointer beams jetted out from the tips of his fingers over the crowds’ heads. I briefly looked around and saw a mere fraction of the reaction to come from the rest of the night as people’s faces lit up like Valentine sweethearts and screams and squeals erupted like an ‘N Sync concert circa 2000.
Rarely have I heard people sing along so loudly and fervently. For as many times as I’ve listened through Hurry Up, there are still lyrics that I wouldn’t recognize to save my life, but as they kept the momentum going with “Reunion” you can bet their wasn’t a single voice in the crowd that wasn’t singling along as Gonzalez yowled, “You make me feel myself!”
A Paul Dano-looking bass player, Jordan Lawlor, headbanged and danced his way through a majority of their set as he brought the kind of enthusiasm and energy that even Gonzalez didn’t quite deliver. A couple times during the night Lawlor took a drum stick to a trigger pad as he continuously did the running man, adding some beats to their traditional drummer, Loïc Maurin’s, steady and burst-like drumming. Just think a hip-hop hype man meets arena rock.
Maurin also delivered as the steady and sure drummer. With the precision of a true artisan, sometimes it was difficult to distinguish the drum kit and the drum triggers. The accosting drum roll lead-in on “New Map” delivered a drug-like effect as cascading synths trickled down in the background. Similar to Sun Airway, M83 was pressed against the back light of the House of Blues for one of the prettiest live shows I’ve seen in quite sometime. Recently, I haven’t thought much about whether or not the look and style of a live performance really matters as much as the music itself, but after seeing the 80s-style geometrical laser light show swirling behind the band as the members seemed to have a sheen of darkness laid over them, it was a stark eye-candy event.
The night-drive song, “Midnight City,” had Orlando’s House of Blues literally roaring like wild animals. I felt the ground shake and move a little beneath me as everyone jumped and crashed into each other. Still, M83 wasn’t above dipping into some older material, which mainly came about in the encore with “Don’t Save Us From the Flames,” “Skin of the Night” and “Graveyard Girl.” Surprisingly, most of the audience was singling along with these tunes as well, and when they ended on the drawn-out instrumental, “Couleurs,” it nearly turned into a rave. But an M83 rave is much better than just any ol’ rave, and when Gonzalez’s droning synth/guitar combination became nothing but a static and dizzying hum before it simply died out, my breath was gone.
Check out some photos from M83′s performance at Orlando’s House of Blues below:
Wed Oct 3