M83 at The Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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M83 at The Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA, November 10th, 2011

Nov 11, 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern M83
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My first experience with M83 was some six years ago in a coffee shop at USC. He was busy pushing buttons, and refusing to stand on ceremony by actually acknowledging his audience. I was a student with a budding musical curiosity and a complete lack of earplugs. While it isn’t impossible to believe Anthony Gonzalez is the same musician that delivered Before the Dawn Heals Us, Wednesday night’s show at The Henry Fonda proved to be miles away from the cramped café where we first met.

Live, M83’s new material is an emotional experience not unlike a journey back in time for the electro-loving children of the 1980s, raised on synthetic sounds and emotional extremes. While the average age of concert attendee edged well-past the age of outright hero worship, I have no doubt that if the merch table had been selling Teen Beat-style posters of sole-steady member Gonzalez, they would have been gone by shows end. Totally obvious confession: I would have bought two.

The set opened with a person taking the stage dressed as the monster that appeared in the artwork of recent single “Midnight City.” Over the top? Perhaps. But with the majority of the set was culled from recently released double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming—an album heavily inspired by Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness—it was a welcome tone setter.

The unidentified monster was bested a moment later, as the band launched into Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming opening track “Intro.” The song featured surprise guest, LA-resident Nika Roza Danilova, who performs as Zola Jesus. Danilova delivered a pitch perfect rendition, and proved to be a superb foil for Gonzalez’s ever-blossoming vocal skills and pop sensibilities.

No longer self-restricted to pulling the strings behind a bank of synths (although it’s clear that’s where he prefers to run the show), Gonzalez stepped out to perform vocals—occasionally lifting his hands for added emphasis. While technical difficulties marred his performance of “Reunion,” there was a newfound sense of comfort, a unity echoed by his touring drummer, newly hired multi-instrumentalist, and keyboardist/vocalist Morgan Kibby—who delivered a scene-stealing performance on Saturdays=Youth’s, “We Own the Sky.” The band was joined by Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who jammed alongside them on bass for several songs, ’fro bobbing in the LEDs that lined the stage.

I remember walking away from my first experience with M83 feeling incredibly impressed with the technical side of his performance and the way the large sound filled the small room. However, it was years before I could look back on the discovery with anything more than mere curiosity. Thus it was with some satisfaction that I found that by sets’ end (featuring a no-holds-barred dance version of “Couleurs”), that not only was I having a great time, I was doing so with newly rediscovered reckless abandonment and emotional engagement. Somehow, by growing bigger and more ambitious, M83 has managed to tap into a previously unexplored level of intimacy. For my money? An extremely successful evolution.

…Now if only I wasn’t still the girl who forgets her earplugs.

Set List:

1. Intro (featuring Zola Jesus)

2. Reunion

3. Kim & Jessie

4. Year One, One UFO

5. My Tears

6. Teen Angst

7. We Own the Sky

8. Steve McQueen

9. Wait

10. This Bright Flash

11. Claudia Lewis

12. Midnight City

13. Guitar & a Heart


14. Skin

15. Couleurs

Check out a video of Zola Jesus performing with M83 here.

See a full gallery of photos here.



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