M83 at Lollapalooza, 8/3/12
Photo by Erik Hess
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day One: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day Two: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day Three: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012: The People
After starting off with the appropriate "Intro," Gonzalez and company followed up with the reverb-heavy "Teen Angst," one of only three songs in the set that didn't come from recent album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. The trademark vocal cooing and crashing cymbals were enough to prompt a wave of raised hands from a seemingly worn out crowd, but it was new single "Reunion" that gave them their first real chance to sing along.
The French band's legitimately awesome music videos have hinted at a musical shift towards soundtracks, a trend that marked their hour-long set with extended stretches of blissed-out synths punctuated by big drum-led meltdowns. To Gonzalez, lyrics are best left at the outskirts of his songs, ghostly statements that draw you deeper into the layers of keyboards and pulsing drums. You could call it dance music and not be too far off, but the heavy emphasis on atmospherics takes away from the bodily thrill of the beat.
Still, when M83 decides to unleash their biggest singles, it's hard not to get caught up in the swirl of neon-bright pop. Daft Punk cover "Fall" boasts a wonderfully gigantic vocal hook which roused the crowd out of a late-day fatigue. Likewise, "Midnight City" is one of the last year's most infectious singles, and the crowd response was suitably large with fists being raised in drunken unison.
Photo by Erik Hess
Unfortunately, the band's biggest tracks weren't followed up by past triumphs like "Kim & Jessie" or "Don't Save Us From The Flames," but by the expansive pomp of "My Tears Are Becoming A Sea." "Outro" did its best to end the set with some much-needed steam, but the crowd started leaving in droves once the familiar strains of "Midnight City" had stopped.
Though they had the benefit of a relatively late slot, the festival grind doesn't give M83 the best venue for showcasing what makes them great. The generous nod to the '80s that's so central to their sound feels lost on a crowd raised on dubstep and the outdoor stages don't help with wrapping the audience up in sumptuous synth euphoria. Gonzalez has far more to offer than massive singles, but the attention-deficit nature of a festival show counts nuance and subtlety as its first casualties.
Personal Bias: I love M83, but after seeing them indoors and in festival mode, I feel like they're better witnessed in a club's confines.
The Crowd: Young, stumbling, and pink from sunburn.
Random Notebook Dump: Keyboard player Morgan Kibby seems to be having the best time out of the whole band, with the exception of the underused sax player.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Man, I'm so tired. Let's get more wine."
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