If the crowd below the stage at Soma last Friday is aware that the band playing above them, Hyena, just won the SDMA for Best Electronic, they are either unimpressed or a group of conservationalists that defies the traditional behavior of its young demographic. No dancing, no clapping, no movement.
Stacked in rows and lethargic as if sleepy (an impossible feat for most teens early on a Friday night), the attendees are silent, even though the all-ages venue is sold out and patrons spill out of its main stage room into the halls and adjoined second stage area. As the minutes tick, all seem master somnambulists, conserving energy through Hyena’s hard-hitting dubstep remixes of their signature explosive, electropop sound. But as Hyena’s set begins to conclude, all let loose and dance feverishly as if shaking off nerves. The air is infectious, antsy, as all await the arrival of French electro royalty M83.
The stage ablaze in a constellation of explosive visual ambience provided by pulsing fluorescent pink and blues hues, finally M83 graces the stage.
In the wide world of electronic music, the transformative power of tension is everything. Artists that have the ability to suspend human emotion into a fourth dimension and meld machinery (be it synths, guitar or soundboard) into an accurate sonic soundtrack that speaks to the depths of existence is a rarity. Music that makes one want to dance is one thing, but music that evokes something along the lines of the supernatural? A “once in a blue moon” phenomenon and one which M83 is clearly pioneering.
Under the blinding strobe lights, M83 shines. Opening with “Intro” (despite the track's Zola Jesus not being present at the show), frontman Anthony Gonzalez left nothing lacking. Punctuating the vacuous venue with a cascade of space synths and astronomically piercing vocals, Gonzalez and Co. fluctuated, keeping the crowd in constant flux between melodic reverie and robust dance party. Building instrumentals magnificently on “We Own the Sky,” the quintet continued, spanning bluesy jazz à la the 1980s (think The Breakfast Club). Keeping the momentum until full mayhem let loose on the opening measure of “Midnight City,” M83 played explosively, but never distantly, to the crowd below.
Thanking the crowd sincerely through the set, Gonzalez was charmingly chatty, forming a heart with his hands and saying “thank you,” not as an afterthought but repeatedly, with sincerity.
Ending their set with the percussion-heavy “A Guitar and a Heart” before breaking into an encore performance of “Skin of the Night,” M83 played into the heartbeat of the audience, unleashing an eight-minute rave-worthy dance-party extravaganza with the discotheque anthem, “Couleurs.” Fully obliterating all into sweaty synth-tastic bliss, with a flash of light the song ended, the lights came on and the band was gone, an apocalyptic quiet left in its wake.
"Kim & Jessie"
"Year One, One UFO"
"We Own The Sky"
"This Bright Flash"
"A Guitar And A Heart"
"Skin of the Night"