Saturday, August 11, 2007

Daft Punk @ Keyspan Park

This show was easily my most anticipated show of all time. Just reading about the show and watching the videos on Youtube was a rush. Discovery is my favorite album of all time and really sent me in a different direction in terms of the music I listen to. I bought these tickets back in March and after a long wait, the day finally arrived yesterday.

I got to the show a bit late, since I was coming out of work, so I only caught the tail end of The Rapture’s set. They were pretty solid, and I do love their music, but tonight was not the night to see them. I’ve heard they’re playing a Halloween show, and I’ll definitely check that out if it happens, but opening for Daft Punk is something of a thankless task. I moved up the field towards the center of the stage as Kavinsky and Sebastian spun. They played some strong tracks, and set the mood well. I saw Kavinsky destroy Studio B in June, one of the funnest shows I’ve been to this year, but again, this was just prelude.

The screens went dark and the Close Encounter notes started to play, I knew things were about to go down. A lot has been written about their live shows, so I’ll skip the obvious. I’d seen the Youtube videos and knew their basic tricks, but it’s still a very different thing to see it live. As the pyramid emerged, it was smaller than I imagined, I’d built this up so much in my head, there was bound to be a subtle disappointment as my imagined version gave way to reality.

I feel like it took a little bit for the crowd to get into the show. There was a lot of enthusiasm, but the section of crowd I was in seemed more interested in photographing the show than jumping around and dancing. I was a bit worried that would happen, since they had the 125 people shooting the show on mini DV. But, before the end of ‘Robot Rock,’ I shifted towards the center and found a patch of crowd that was more into the show.

A large part of what made the show so amazing was the way they built the set. ‘Robot Rock’ is a song people know, but it’s not one of their megahits, most of those were saved for later in the show, with the less known tracks working as warmup. When ‘Technologic’ dropped, things started to pick up, but it really broke out with ‘Crescendolls,’ which had most of the crowd, or at least the crew around me, shouting “Hey!” at the top of our lungs.

Hearing the clear pop of Discovery emerge out of the darker tinged electro of the early part of the set was a revelation. I think part of the reason they didn’t do this sort of live show for Discovery is that they need the darkness of Human After All to balance things out. Those effusive tracks are much more excited when contrasted with the pounding darkness of a “Steam Machine” or “Brainwasher.” I think Human After All is a generally successful album, but I’ll admit it was a bit of a letdown after the brilliance of Discovery. But, those tracks provided the base that let the Discovery tracks kill. And then the Homework tracks are also still around, serving as great bridge and backing for the more hooky tracks from the past couple of albums.

Things kicked into high gear with what was arguably the greatest song I’ve ever heard live, the mix of ‘Harder Better Faster Strong’ and ‘Around the World.’ Separately, these songs, but combined they become a monster live track that had me jumping all around with everyone in the audience. Daft Punk’s songs are all about the mixing of elements, knowing when to bring in a bass or high line for maximum impact. Here, the two songs are mixed to perfectly compliment each other, creating something that was almost too much to absorb. I’d find myself getting into ‘Around the World,’ then shift over to ‘Harder Better,’ and ultimately just let go and absorb it all.

The other highlight was the slow build mix of ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Harder Better.’ This was accompanied by the green square computer graphics, and built over a slowed down vocal to a bustling groove. Next, they dropped the bells that open ‘Aerodynamic,’ grabbing audience cheers, then surprisingly dropped ‘One More Time’ to even more cheers. At this point, everything was going nuts and it was just a completely ecstatic experience. It was a communal experience unlike any other concert I’ve been to, I was completely lost in the music and the dazzling light show. Ultimately, that kind of experience is something you get so few times in life, it was thrilling to have last night.

The other incredibly sick mix was the mashup of ‘Brainwasher’ and ‘Da Funk,’ which also prompted a singalong. Watching these two screw around with their catalogue and create an entirely new work out of the existing pieces made straight up rock shows seem totally insignificant by comparison. I still do love live music, but this was an entirely different art. Even knowing what to expect, I was blown away by what they pulled off.

A lot of people have been saying “Best show ever” about this one, and I have to agree. After the 90 minutes, I was completely satisfied. I’d have loved more, but I didn’t need it, and that’s the sign of a good show. I think everyone left there completely satisfied with what they got, and as the two of them disappeared into the steam, jackets lit up saying Daft Punk, the mystique of these two only increased. If you want to know how good this show was, I’ll just say that I’m seriously considering making the trip to Vegas for their next show. I don’t want to wait to be a part of this again.

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