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M83 Reaches for the Stars

August 9th, 2012

M83 – SummerStage – August 8, 2012


It’s a bold move to name your band after something as grandiose as a spiral galaxy, and it would be presumptuous for any band that isn’t M83. The group’s ability to create songs that are both fun and maximalist yet also rich with meaning and emotional depth means they could name themselves “the Entire Universe” if they so desired. Their live show felt at home at SummerStage in Central Park, where the words and rhythms of their songs could spiral out into the infinity of open space. It’s been quite a year for M83, who, after releasing the fantastic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, has been touring the world extensively, including playing some of the planet’s biggest festivals.

But last night, frontman Anthony Gonzalez made sure to let everyone know that the band had been looking forward to the chance to play New York City’s historic park for a long time. And the opportunity was not wasted. The music got an assist from some stunning visuals that included smoke, flashing colored light panels, lasers and a starry glimmering backdrop. It was a stage design that looked half-inspired by the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A small string ensemble at the back of the stage made things even more epic by adding some extra orchestral oomph to songs like “Teen Angst” and a cover of “Fall,” originally written by French synth-rockers Daft Punk.

The audience took every opportunity to sing during the show, and some braves souls even attempted to bark along to “Midnight City,” the clear crowd favorite. The place went crazy for the saxophone solo that concludes the song so perfectly it could have dragged on forever without a complaint from anyone. While Morgan Kibby’s beautiful voice made several appearances throughout the night, her ghostly singing on “Skin of the Night” was an absolute showstopper. M83 finished off things with the hard-hitting instrumental “Couleurs” from Saturdays = Youth, giving some band members the chance to jump around the stage flipping out—and those in attendance the final chance to squeeze out whatever energy remained to dance their asses off. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | notch.org

(M83 plays the Hammerstein Ballroom on 10/2 and 10/3.)