Röyksopp at Ultra Music Festival 2011 Day One, March 25
After several years of complete absence from Miami, Norwegian duo Röyksopp more than made up for it last night. The pair's pulsing, tripped-out nighttime set on the live stage is already a contender for one of the best shows at the festival.
Though their latest album, Senior, was mostly instrumental, slightly evil-sounding techno and their previous effort, 2009's Junior, was a lot of chirpy, vocal disco, the set fell somewhere in the middle. Buddies Svein and Tjorbjorn masterfully manipulated the mood into sonic peaks and valleys. Yet most of their set aimed straight for the middle and straight for the gut.
With the pumping four-four beat, rainbow-colored laser lights, and hazy, processed male and female vocals, the effect was 100-percent psychedelic, even if you were only on Red Bull and Zephyrhills.
The stage setup itself was, in fact, "a bit shitkicker," as Svein described it in his recent interview with Crossfade -- a bank of synths and old analog electronic stuff set up on what looked like card tables.
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Meanwhile, the band members switched in and out of thrift-store-style costumes, which amounted sometimes to just a cape, or what looked like a bag over Tjorbjorn's head. Actually, the most involved costume belonged to guest vocalist Anneli Drecker, who donned a black body suit with some L-shaped light-up harnesses during the band's closing numbers.
Drecker was one of the biggest treats of the festival. The Norwegian singer once fronted the goth-leaning '80s dream-pop group Bel Canto, and appeared later on Royksopp's Junior. She brought a sweet, ethereal feel to the songs on which she appeared, further pushing them into outer space.
As for the rest of the band's material, most of the familiar songs were upped in intensity. Even their biggest American hit, "Remind Me," veered far away from its easy-listening style to a more ravey, darker sound. That then launched the band into a long, Senior-style excursion, full of shimmering sounds that took the mood and tempo up, down, and back again. (It was possibly the perfect mood soundtrack for the kids in the audiences waving lights in each others' faces.)
By their scheduled set-closing time of 9 p.m., though, nobody wanted to stop, and Tjorbjorn asked the crowd if they should play one more. Of course, the resounding answer was yes, and Drecker reappeared in a mask and fur shrug to perform "Tricky Tricky," from Junior.
The vocals were originally performed by Karin Andersson of the Knife and Fever Ray. But Drecker's singing was processed enough that it sounded almost identical. It didn't matter, anyway. As the tempo increased again, everyone lost their shit, and the lyrical refrain of "I'm about to lose it" seemed more appropriate than ever.
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