Amidst the extensive array of performances I viewed during my days at Coachella last month, I was only able to catch a few songs of M83′s late night performance. At a multi-day music festival, the decisions one is faced with could be colossal: The Black Keys, Explosions in the Sky and M83 being one I personally faced. I hesitantly decided to miss most of M83′s Coachella set since less than a week after my return from the desert they’d be playing a show in Salt Lake at In The Venue.
This past Sunday as I entered the venue, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had noticed multiple signs announcing that the show had predictably sold out. Since the band’s release of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming late last year, M83 has reveled in mainstream success, driven by the hugely popular “Midnight City”. This album deservedly created a legion of new fans for the band, but the devoted fans have long been immersing themselves in the 80′s-inspired songs, layered with mysterious synth, guitar and dominating bass. To call M83 innovative and imaginative would be an understatement.
Immediately on arrival, I was engulfed in a pulsating, eager energy, but it wasn’t long before M83 frontman, Anthony Gonzalez lunged into “Intro”. The anticipation was shattered into a cascade of sparkling and flashing lights, instantly establishing a shimmering, dreamlike atmosphere.
Despite the success M83 has garnered, at times Gonzalez appeared modest and timid, as if he is still surprised by his band’s ability to sell out yet another venue. These are characteristics often used to describe the lead singer in a “shoegazing” band – a term widely used to describe M83 – but any reserves Gonzalez’s may have had were washed away by his intensity and passion for playing.
Morgan Kibby’s whispered vocals were haunting over crescendoing instruments and synth lines, while Loic Maurin’s frenzied drumming aligned perfectly with the flashing lights on “Reunion”. Multi-instrumentalist, Jordan Lawler’s stage personality was monstrous and his energy radiated from the stage. The band’s fervor as a whole detonated an explosion of M83′s recorded sound, carrying the audience through soundscapes one could only experience from M83 live.
Then the soundscape instantly ruptured into a dance party as “Midnight City” filled the venue and just when I thought the excitement could not be more intense, Ian Young appeared on stage and cracked the song wide open with his sax solo, heightening the crowd’s level of enthusiasm through the rafters. And then, as quickly as it had begun, “Midnight City” ended with bright lights illuminating a venue collectively on its feet.
The set was relatively short and ended too soon, even considering the three song encore. The dreamers were shaken awake as the house lights lit the venue and I in awe, shuffled toward the exit, following the masses of people in a similar mesmerized state. Needless to say, Anthony Gonzalez’s band had blown my expectations out of the water- and my expectations had been high.
-Amanda “The Bearded Lady” Best
Here are some more videos we caught at the show!!!
*Pictures courtesy of our friend Amanda Maestas. Thank you Amanda!