Ah, M83. A band with a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ appeal, featuring sounds and sights c’est tres magnifique. Baguette.
I could go on with more French superlatives that border on stereotypical to describe M83’s long awaited performance at the Fillmore in Miami, but months of anticipation that bursted like a electro supernova was something that was left to be experienced.
You could say there was a 6 month wait period for this M83 show, being that their South Florida concert date was to be at National Debauchery Weekend, also known as Ultra Festival (seriously, you think hippies at Woodstock were bad? Practically every ticket for Ultra comes with its own ecstasy pill and glow stick). Unfortunately and luckily all at once, their setlist at Ultra was cut to only two songs, due to technical issues delaying their time on stage. A proper show this is not, and usually bands find this caveat in touring by attending a music festival in – insert state region here – and playing an abbreviated set. So to do right to their Florida followers, M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez kicked off the small 2nd leg of their tour in South Beach.
They already have this festival aesthetic, with music that’s flamboyant and melodic in its electronic makeup, and a kaleidoscope of colors projecting from an astral background. If only space was nearly that much fun. A compounded mini-festival was how Wednesday nights show looked to be, with heaps of fans squeezing together like sheep in a stable. Already agitation set in, as it looked like another delay was taking place with getting M83 on stage, but as the lights dimmed and a furry, mutated elephant-like troll stepped out with blue lights emanating from its fingertips, the thought of “Oh, it’s THAT kind of show” popped in my head and I was immediately transfixed.
Starting the show with the appropriately titled “Intro” off the critically-heralded “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” (2011), Gonzalez already had the near sold-out crowd in his control, as synthesizers swooned with him delivering the near chant-like “Carry on! Carry on!” with the incline of the music steadily increasing, bursting like a comet in its crescendo. There is a reason why their brand of songs are labeled as dream pop, since it sounds like the soundtrack one would have if you were entering the recesses of your dreams, navigating the labyrinths as the music equals that in its chaotic splendor. This was a groove that continued throughout the show, and I feel Miami got M83 and a very gelled moment, with them still in touring mode but having been on a 2-3 week break, so reinvigorated and giving Miami the show they wanted to was immediately signed and delivered. This felt true with the setlist, as it wasn’t just a barrage of songs mashed together but a constructed electronic algorithm, with each song flowing into the other and having purpose. Standout track “Reunion” propulsed as gold lights motioned frantically throughout, the smooth night stroll of “We Own The Sky” which purple and white LEDs hovering above like moonlight, and the 8-bit frenzy of “Fall” gave the show layering and distinction amongst songs that could start mirroring one another too much. It all ranged through early works of Gonzalez’s to the now Pitchfork-loving dance wail of “Midnight City”, which was also placed with strategic precision in the middle-end of their set. Their energy never stagnated, as brother Yaan, guitaris Jordan Lawler, keyboardist and vocalist Morgan Kirby, and drummer Loic Maurin seemed to revel in the moment, almost they would play their music and react with “Yeah, this sounds pretty awesome.” Not in a way of self-congratulations but cognizant to eager crowd taking in this experience with them. And when you see one of the musicians pound away on a drum pad with explosive force, you know the excitement is palpable.
The upbeat swing of “Couleurs” closed the show, and as Gonzalez and co. bid adieu, the levels of sweat and adrenaline were still kicking in. I measure a show like this by the direct amount of cardio done, and this was a time where it was very agreeable to this standard. You could excuse me if I took French leave from work the next morning.
by Mike Hernandez
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