Daft Punk @ LA Sports Arena, 7/21/07
Daft Punk last performed in Los Angeles proper in 1997 in support of their now classic debut album Homework at the club Pink. I was ill that evening and couldn't make the show, although my next door neighbor at the time went and raved about how awesome the show was for the following several weeks.
When Daft Punk played at Coachella in 2006, southern California fans were treated to, by all accounts, one of the sickest performances ever seen. So impressive was this show that every single person who witnessed it, including a lot of people who generally have no interest in electronic music, let alone electronic music live shows, felt compelled to gush about how mind blowing this show was. I have been a huge Daft Punk fan since I first heard 'Da Funk' before the release of Homework, and due to circumstances and timing, I wasn't able to make it to Coachella in '06. For the last year and a half I have been met with incredulous, slack-jawed looks and claims that I fail at life for not having been in attendance at this show.
When a colleague pointed me to a Pitckfork article announcing an LA date of the Daft Punk 'Alive' tour, needless to say, I dropped everything I was doing and secured tickets for this show immediately. With the virtually monolithic hype surrounding Daft Punk shows, I walked into the LA Sports Arena last night with extraordinarily high expectations.
What followed was a performance that had the energy and emotion of a religious experience, not only living up to the hype, but shattering my concepts of how amazing a live performance by an electronic music act could be.
As the last intermission track died down and the lights were cut, the sold out Sports Arena crowd was already in a frenzy. Then the familiar five tone alien communication from Close Encounters of the Third Kind dropped and the place went absolutely bananas. Daft Punk emerged from the top of a huge pyramid in their signature robot gear and proceeded to simply destroy for the next 90 minutes.
Unlike so many other electronic artists who basically mix their album tracks together like a DJ, Daft Punk completely de-constructs the tracks from their three studio albums, creating a brand new soundscape that builds up huge climaxes using portions of their songs which tease the crowd just long enough before dropping into full blown dance floor burners. This allows them to cover a lot of ground, using elements of dozens of songs without ever playing any album track in its original form. The ecstatic crowd of around 15,000 people were all dancing, and most were literally jumping up and down at various times throughout the show.
Flanking the stage were two large video screens, which displayed camera feeds of the Daft Punk robots as they performed. An elaborately choreographed light show centered around the LCD wrapped pyramid on top of which they played made for a amazing, multi-sensory experience, as opposed to the bunch of arbitrary flashing lights that tend to add little to most electronic music concerts. Instead of the lighting covering up for an otherwise boring live show, it served to enhance what was already a superb and exciting performance.
The encore began with some harder techno sounds with Daft Punk obscured from view. As they began a reprise of "One More Time", the robots reappeared as wire framed versions of their chrome counterparts, their costumes outlined in red light. The visual impact of this was phenomenal, and the crowd exploded.
This was truly one of the best shows I have ever seen and I will never forget it. If you are reading this from another city on the current tour, I suggest that you beg, borrow, and steal to get there.