M83 last night at Slowdown went down pretty much as expected. Actually, that’s not true. I went thinking that there may be a bit more theatrics in their staging. After all, they’re competing with acts like Sigur Rós, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and considering the dance/pop nature of some of their songs, The Faint. So it was a bit disappointing to see the only stage accoutrement was a large M83 curtain hanging from the rafters. I also expected a smaller turnout. Someone posted on the webboard last week that only 100 tickets were sold. I would guesstimate that there was maybe three times that number in the crowd — a respectable turnout except when you consider that M83 is selling out in other cities on this tour.
Their sound, however, was no surprise at all. At the center was mastermind Anthony Gonzales on keyboards, electric guitar, Mac (judging by the glowing Apple logo that stood out like a beacon atop his hardware rack) and vocals. Standing across from him behind an opposing battery of synths was the amazing Morgan Kibby. Add a drummer and bass and you’ve got a full band that made a note-perfect recreation of the dense, atmospheric, dreamy music heard on M83 albums. M83 is a must for anyone into synth-powered ambient shoe-gazer stuff from bands like those mentioned above as well as The Cure, Roxy Music, Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, and stylized synth-dance acts like Ladytron and Junior Boys. Their sheer enormity and their unabashed penchant for ’80s synth sounds make them stand out from the crowd. There is a tension and drama to M83’s music, which makes the Mogwai/Sigur/Kevin Shields comparisons easy; there’s also a knack for Eno-esque repeated phrasings that build to glittering, crashing crescendos. In fact, their music is so naturally theatrical that a complementary lighting show is a must. It certainly would have helped get the crowd into the music — the bowl in front of the stage was filled with blank-eyed, mesmerized stares, seemingly oblivious to the dance beats.
It was probably the best-sounding show I’ve heard on Slowdown’s big stage — gorgeous and balanced and not too loud. They played for about an hour before coming back for one 15-minute encore that ended with a shimmering fade played from an empty stage.
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Flipping through the latest issue of Rolling Stone (which now resembles a copy of Us magazine, I still haven’t figured out how to cancel my subscription) I noticed former Omahan Mike Jaworski’s Mt. Fuji label mentioned in David Fricke’s column. Fricke was shelling out praise for the Whore Moans, a Seattle band that just released its new album — Hello from the Radio Wasteland — on Mt. Fuji. Said Fricke, “…the Whore Moans are steadfast believers in loud-fast salvation, or what they call in one power-cord catapult, ‘The Holy Fucking Moment,’ This album has plenty.” Nice.
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Tonight, a special Martin Luther King Jr. spectacular at O’Leaver’s featuring Reagan and the Rayguns, Local Natives, The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast. One wonders if Reagan will recite the “I Have a Dream” speech over a sample of Wil.i.am’s “Yes We Can.” Now that’s hope I can believe in… 9 p.m., $5.
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And last but not least, here are the winners in the Lazy-i Best of 2008 Sampler giveaway:
Ryan Hinderaker, Chicago
Helen Gassmann, Hamburg, PA
Bart L. Parks, Omaha
Congratulations! I’ll be dropping your CDs in the mail tomorrow. And thanks to everyone who entered.
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