M83’s impressive musicianship and adroit geekery delivers on the potential of merging strict electronica and rock and roll. Their capable hand at translating their studio work into the live setting is all the more remarkable, as this is where man of their contemporaries fail. And that capability has certainly piqued the curiosity and adoration of many. The band’s penultimate 2011 US show in San Francisco represented a good mix of archetypal electronic fans and the casual: tech geeks, DJs and super-fans, along with a smattering general music lovers rounding out the audience. And they knew all the words to the songs. All of them."
After a somewhat awkward pre-intro with M83 wunderkind Anthony Gonzalez dressed in a monster costume taken from 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’s cover, the band aggressively launched into the set. Although Zola Jesus joined the band the night before in Los Angeles to sing her superb vocals for the song ”Intro,” her own touring schedule kept her away from repeating the performance in San Francisco. M83’s regular touring vocalist Morgan Kibby held her own on “Intro,” however, and continually impressed throughout the rest of the evening. Kibby almost stole the show from Gonzalez, two guitarists and the drummer, but the band displayed a valiant team spirit throughout the night, with plenty of eye contact and close-proximity playing.
Technical snafus plagued the backing tracks for the first few minutes after “Intro.” It was difficult to tell if it was M83’s tech person, who was tinkering with several laptops throughout the entire show, or Mezzanine’s sound engineer, as both kept their cool and were extremely professional throughout the breakdown. Early missteps aside, the show was superlative (except for some over-modulation on “Steve McQueen,” which may in fact have been intentional).
Eschewing the more mellow tracks from M83’s early repertoire, Gonzalez and crew stuck mainly to the more uptempo numbers from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and 2008’s Saturdays = Youth. Re-workings of “Couleurs”and “We Own The Sky” were met with the crowd’s praise, and hits like “Midnight City” and “Reunion” were especially poignant and intense, with the crowd screaming the line “the city is my church” louder than anything else heard all night.
M83 demonstrates an emerging capacity to push the envelopes of electronica by mixing it with classic rock vernacular, thereby making the music much more entertaining than a bunch of geeky guys pressing buttons on complicated machines. The band can program their technological flourishes and rock out on real instruments, making their hard work look easy and producing a sound that the band could easily convert to fill arenas and stadiums. If M83 keeps up their current progression, they may just do both.
Kim & Jessie
Year One, One UFO
We Own The Sky
This Bright Flash
A Guitar And A Heart
Skin Of The Night