Empire of the Sun at Ultra Music Festival 2011 Day Two, March 26
There is no arguing here. Best. Ultra. Performance. Ever.
Most were foolishly duped into checking out Underworld and Deadmau5's performances on the Main Stage. But you foolish punks missed out on one the best moments in the festival's entire history.
Only once have we felt such a rush of energy, knowing that we witnessing something special. That was in 2006 when Daft Punk destroyed the masses at Bang Music Festival.
No, Empire of the Sun's performance didn't exactly match that -- how do you compete with a LED pyramid and honeycomb lights? But it did have it all: Gaga-esque theatrics, backup dancers, costume changes, and amazing visuals. It was sort of like a Final Fantasy video game come to life.
Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore are often unfairly compared to MGMT. Sure, there's an air of psychedelia to the duo's electropop melodies. But they borrow more heavily from Daft Punk's Discovery and '80s Prince than "Electric Feel."
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For the first half, Steele, dressed like a mythical sun god, went through the band's small catalog of songs, including "We Are the People." Strumming on his guitar, the four masked backup dancers pantomimed his moves on purely ornamental LED-lit instruments.
The climax came during the performance of "Swordfish Hotkiss Night," a high-energy sleeper track hidden near the end of Walking on a Dream. Sounding like a B-side from Purple Rain, the energy just exploded as the lights, visuals, and dancing seem to speed up with every passing second.
But there's no fooling anybody. People were there to hear the hit, AKA "Walking on a Dream." And after a quick costume change, Steele emerged as a Japanese warrior with an army of geishas. The whole audience sang along and danced.
Once it was over, the mass exodus had us wondering if anyone would stick around to see Sasha's live performance. We didn't stay to find out. We wanted to leave the festival still buzzing with that feeling of witnessing history.
And a final note to Ultra's organizers: While TiÃ«sto sells tickets, it's performances like Empire of the Sun's that will catapult the festival to a place where electronic music superstars are made.
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