Wednesday, September 26
Fillmore Miami Beach
Better Than: Dreaming ... IRL.
A "nightmare" is the word Anthony Gonzalez used last night at the Fillmore Miami Beach to describe M83's disastrous appearance at Ultra Music Festival in March. But if Ultra was a nightmare, than the band's performance at the Fillmore could only be described as a dream.
From the moment Gonzalez took the stage, it seemed as though his mission was to transport the audience into a dream world with a twinkling sky and flashes of light. It wasn't necessarily a complex light show, but it didn't need to be.
"Thank you so much, Miami!" Gonzalez said as he looked over a nearly sold-out Fillmore. "We are glad to be in such a beautiful venue."
It almost made the six-month wait worth it. At Ultra, the band was playing for a crowd that might or might not have been there to see them. At the Fillmore, everyone had made a conscious effort to see this one band.
As soon as the battle cry "Carry on! Carry on!" of "Intro" came on, the band quickly set the mood and pace of the show, as LED tubing changed from color to color, almost like synapses firing in the brain.
Most bands feel obligated to play material off their newest release during live sets while punctuating it with past hit singles. But M83 didn't really follow that pattern. Yes, there were quite a few tracks from Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. However, the set spanned Gonzalez's entire career with very few of those so-called hit singles. Instead, it seemed that Gonzalez carefully choose the tracks that'd fit the mood he was going for -- a quiet loudness that M83 seems especially skilled at.
A special highlight was the odd choice of picking a relatively obscure track like "Fall" from Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy R3CONF1GUR3D with Big Black Delta. The instrumental packed an even bigger punch live with an 8-bit breakdown that nearly descended into chaos.
Even the placement of the hit "Midnight City" was a bit odd. Usually, bands get it over with toward the beginning of the set or wait until after the encore to play their seminal song. If performed at the end, it's usually after a buildup, quickly washing over the audience like a collective climax. But M83, curiously enough, choose to slip it into the middle of the set.
The placing was bewildering. But at the same time, perhaps it was for the best. With a track of that magnitude in popularity, it could have easily felt like, "Here's the track everyone's been waiting for." Instead, it flowed genuinely, without pretension, into the rest of M83's set.
And that's the best word to describe M83's set -- genuine. Gonzalez didn't pander to his audience, giving the Fillmore a rundown of the "hits." Instead, the performance was a carefully curated retrospective that took the audience through nightmares and dreams.
By the time the last song was played, "Couleurs," it seemed to be an alarm clock telling you to wake up. The finale burst with energy and light to let us know the concert was over. It was a dream that we didn't want to wake up from.
Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for a good stage setup. Even the worst music can be helped by a good light show ... Well, most of the time.
The Crowd: Hipsters, bros, and lots of air guitarists.
By the Way: I refuse to refer to M83 as shoegaze. It's one of those genre names that doesn't really mean anything.
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-"Year One, One UFO"
-"We Own the Sky"
-"This Bright Flash"
-"My Tears Are Becoming a Sea"
-"A Guitar and a Heart"
-"Skin of the Night"