Monolith Festival Live Blog, Day 2
Tokyo Police Club started a solid run on the main stage. (Photo by Chad Fahnestock).
And it's gone.
Just like that, the gale-force winds of indie rock have come and gone, whipping Red Rocks into a frenzy all day Saturday and Sunday. Missed it? Can't remember it? Read our Day 1 Monolith Live Blog here, and read on for photos and/or reviews of Band of Horses, TV on the Radio, Justice, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Toyko Police Club -- and that's just one stage.
Also, visit Westword's slide show page for pictures from Day 1 and Day 2. -- Joe Tone, live from his bed, which is sort of like the Monolith media tent, only with no tacos, no poop smell, and, sadly, no ice cream man. Wait, that didn't come out right ...
The Chain Gang of 1974, 1:30 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: Attending a small-scale rave before you’ve had your morning coffee.
Kamtin M. did his best to rouse the small crowd assembled in the Red Rocks Visitor Center in the early hours of festival’s second day. The Chain Gang of 1974’s front man exhorted the audience to pack closer to the stage, he sprayed silly string into the crowd and he clambered on the massive red rock that served as the stage’s backdrop.
The effect was not lost on the show’s attendants, as young concert-goers decked in skinny jeans and plastic sunglasses seemed to shake off the early afternoon hour and dive straight into late-night abandon.
The minimalism of Kamtin’s instrumentation -- consisting of an electric bass, a drum set and a vast array of cow bells over prerecorded rhythm tracks -- helped streamline the set. Coupled with Kamtin’s undeniable skill for antics and unbounded energy, the simple house beats and shallow lyrical lines (“We at the disco,” “You know you want to lose control”) made participation fairly easy.
Strutting in his best Mick Jagger-inspired peacock poses and mingling with the audience, Kamtin managed to set an energetic tone for the early hours of day two, despite the fact that the sun was still up and many seemed to be recovering from excesses of last night.
“It’s very cool that you are here so early in the morning,” Kamtin said, right before the clock struck 1:40 p.m. Early, it seems, is relative.
Verdict: The set posed no challenging melodic lines or thought-provoking rhythmic structures, but the Gang did a laudable job of stirring the crowd. -- A.H. Goldstein
Astra Moveo, 1:45 p.m., New Belgium Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: The cutting edge of 2003.
Looking comically out of place under a gray Morrison sky at 2 in the afternoon, the fashionistas in Astra Moveo played a thoroughly competent set of the kind of transparently (intentionally?) vacuous dance-rock that the Faint have been doing way better for about six years now. Simplistic electro beats and many-times-recycled hooks inspired a bit of “dancing,” and the singer tried his best, getting off the stage and sitting casually on the barrier, but even he seemed a bit bored. Maybe this stuff would work better about twelve hours later, in a sweaty club after many, many PBRs and lines of coke, but, well … at least they gave out free CDs afterward.
Verdict: Even the small coterie of the ironically bespectacled that the band attracted only had it in them to hop around for about five minutes before disappearing. -- Kyle Smith
Pomegranates, 2 p.m., Woxy.com Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
Rosewood Thieves, 2 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
What it was like: A mash-up of instrumental and vocal textures from a host of 1960s pop bands.
There was something consummately familiar about The Rosewood Thieves’ musical dynamic as they played the main stage, and while I’d never heard any of the band’s albums before, snippets of songs kept ringing bells in my mind.
I finally figured out what it was. While the quintet offered a well-rehearsed sound and engaging, resonance-infused guitar solos, their ‘60s-pop sound played like a composite of countless rock heavyweights, from the Doors to solo John Lennon. That’s not to say that the band’s set didn’t provide moments of evocative originality. At his high points, lead singer Erick Jordan delivered stirring lines of gruff vocals, as Mackenzie Vernacchio’s understated organ lines added a notable amount of texture and contours to the tunes.
Still, whether it was a riff that sounded as if it were ripped right from the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash,” or a keyboard line that recalled a tune by the Zombies, the band’s influences stood out in their more-than competent performance.
Verdict: An enjoyable way to wile away the second day’s early hours. -- Goldstein
American Bang, 2:30 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
What it was like: Although the band had just flow in from Nashville and singer Jaren Johnston was a loopy from the altitude, American Bang kicked out a high charged set of Southern-fried garage rock. Most of the cuts were tight and infectious power-chord driven numbers, including a souped-up Foghat-esque trip. During the beginning of their ode to the Glimmer Twins, “The Stones,” Johnson and Ben Brown rocked out a dual guitar assault. Johnson then introduced the next song, “Jack Daniels,” by saying it was a song about his favorite thing in the world, and follow up with a tune about the whiskey running low. They kicked the energy up a notch on the final cut with Johnson jumping off the drum kit.
Verdict: These young cats know how to rock, so look out for their Warner Brothers debut in January. -- Jon Solomon
Snowden, 2:45 p.m., New Belgium Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: A lesson in how to overcome the limitations of a derivative sound …
… namely, do everything very well. Yes, Atlanta’s Snowden are yet another band mining the late ’70s and early ’80s for their sound, specifically, the dark, atmospheric, yet muscular side of that era—think Public Image Ltd. or Joy Division and their Factory brethren—but instead of sounding tired—see Astra Moveo—they remind one of why that period remains such fertile ground: when done right, it’s incredibly compelling. Sporting a kick-ass rhythm section and a political edge, the band made a big noise—one song featured twin bass guitars, which can never fail to be awesome—and displayed some genuine punk energy—particularly their bassist, who bashed her instrument as well as she played it.
Verdict: “We walk like bullets and we talk like bullets.” Indeed.
Tokyo Police Club, 3 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
Tokyo Police Club started a solid run on the main stage. (Photo by Chad Fahnestock).
What it was like: Having a consistently speedy and emotive soundtrack for a pleasant change in the weather.
The elements smiled on the Tokyo Police Club’s set. After an early afternoon of threatening skies and chilly temperatures, the band took to the main stage under strong sunlight and balmy conditions.
The crowd took the change in the weather as a boon, buzzing with energy and enthusiasm for the band’s set. Dave Monks’ plaintive vocals and Josh Hook’s distorted leads played well over Graham Wright’s punctuated keyboard lines and Greg Alsop’s driving drums. With Wright hunched consistently over his keyboards and Monks playing directly to the band’s loyalists assembled in front, the slower pace of the morning seemed to speed up.
Indeed, the Tokyo Police Club’s set seemed to mark a dynamic moment, a demarcation between warming up and getting to the meat and potatoes of the festival’s second day.
Verdict: While the entire set bore a formulaic similarity, the Club’s skill in spelling out catchy, power pop melodies and driving, insistent rhythms was in full evidence. -- Goldstein
Grampall Jookabox, 3:10 p.m., Woxy.com Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: A predawn, junkyard symphony.
Grampall Jookabox is a one-man rhythm section that employs a similar setup as Reverend Deadeye and Hunter Dragon -- which is to say he was the only person on stage, sitting behind a bare drum kit, forcefully stomping the kick, while simultaneously doling out chunky riffs on a distorted bass. With a mini-miner light strapped to his forehead, Jookabox displayed a surprising amount of musicality as he traded between throaty howls and soulful stabs at falsetto. At one point during the set, I could've swore I heard him say, "We're from Minneapolis." Considering that, again, he was the only person on stage, I'm going to assume he was referring to the Royal We. Although he spent a good portion of the set sitting behind the kit, he did venture out during the last song, crooning and dancing awkwardly to the rhythm of a backing track while offering up lines like, "I need to eat/I can't have no baby."
Verdict: As entertaining as Grampall Jookabox was, the music, which was frequently distorted and swadled in flange effects, wasn't all that memorable. -- Dave Herrera
Swayback, 3:45 p.m., New Belgium Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: A long-overdue introduction.
This was the first time I’d seen local indie-rock stalwarts the Swayback, and I was definitely impressed by them. Pitched somewhere between sludgy rawk and noisy post-punk, they’re undoubtedly powerful, and bassist Eric Halborg’s theatrical vocals add a further level of distinction. (His doofy hippie-Christ looks don’t hurt, incongruous as they may be.) The only bummer was that, aside from a drum-machine beat on one song, I couldn’t hear any of whatever the keyboardist/laptopist was doing underneath all of the buzz and throb.
Verdict: I’m glad I finally caught up with these guys, who are practically veterans at this point, and who definitely deserve all of the attention they’re getting. -- Smith
Moonspeed, 3:50 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: The amorphous, minimalistic attitude of your most indulgent emo band realized with grandiose orchestration.
As Moonspeed toiled through their lengthy sound check, I found myself having to count the band members at least four times. The first tally was eight, and then I spotted a third guitar player. I thought my calculation of nine was accurate, but then the Melodica player seemed to pop out of nowhere.
With two synthesizers, two drum sets, three guitars, a percussionist, a bassist and a Melodica player, the band boasts an epic, expansive musical dynamic, one that complements the band’s dreamy, fantastical lyrical musings and its open-ended song structure.
Jeff Suthers’ hazy, haunted vocals played well over the rich menu of tones, from the slow ring of a triangle to the resonant hum of a synthesizer. The lyrics seemed pulled from some slow-motion dreamscape, and lines like “We belong under a silent sky,” and “I saw her as a ghost” fit the grand tone and tenor of the instrumentation.
Verdict: An expansive approach to a simple emo structure. -- Goldstein
Avett Brothers, 4:15 p.m., Main Stage
What it was like: It’s a wonderful thing seeing a bunch of young hipsters stomping their feet and clapping along to the rootsy Americana of the Avett Brothers. And hey, it’s hard not to stomp along with these brothers from North Carolina. Whether it was a few tunes from their album Emotionalism like “Shame,” “Die Die Die” or “Paranoia in B-Flat Major” or a new tune from the a new album they’re working on, these cats motored their killer hour-long set, playing the hell of their acoustic instruments before pulling out the electric guitar and bass and rocking out on the second half of “Pretty Girl From Chile.” They also played some cuts from 2006’s Four Thieves Gone: The Robinsville Sessions, like the great “Distraction #74,” which one of the brothers said was about going down the wrong road over and over. These guys seem like they’re definitely on the righteous path.
Verdict: These guys seriously killed it. -- Solomon
Miles Benjamin and Anthony Robinson, 4:30 p.m., Woxy.com Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
What it was like: Folk rock as sung by a dude with a hell of a sore throat.
I have a pretty high tolerance—even a love—for idiosyncratic voices, but Robinson’s yelpy croak had me cringing within the first five minutes. And his voice, unfortunately, was the most distinctive thing about his performance, which tended toward energetic but fairly vanilla singer-songwriter rock. Toward the end, I did begin to see a glimmer of something special, and Robinson’s willingness to assert so strongly such an unlovable voice makes me think—or hope, at least—that he has something he really wants to say, but it’s always tough to hear lyrics in a live setting.
Verdict: This is the kind of music that badly needs some good lyrics to make it work, and so I’m inclined to think that Robinson might better be heard in a context where his words can come through. -- Smith
Tilly and the Wall, 5 p.m., New Belgium Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
What it was like: Watching a female reincarnation of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson stamp out percussion for a contemporary iteration of the Go-Go’s.
Forget the timpani, forget the slit drum. Tilly and the Wall’s approach to percussion makes such instrumentation seem wooden and inhuman, even as it recalls a much older musical genre.
The band’s set-up in the New Belgium theater highlighted one of their most notable aspects: Namely, that they use tap dancer Jaimie Presnall as a living, breathing percussion tool. While this rhythmic method has its roots in the jazz age, Tilly and the Wall’s brand of poppy, ‘80s retro sound makes it an unlikely candidate for such old school tools.
More than Presnall’s ever-cheery, ever-smiling appearance, the band’s set benefited from their uncanny sense of showmanship and theatrics. Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid sported kaleidoscope colors, and front man Derek Presnall’s frenetic, frenzied performance was sheer showmanship.
Marching onstage with a rousing chant of “Aw shit … Monolith, let’s fuck it up,” the band came ready to play directly to the crowd.
Verdict: The band’s danceable, digestible set, combined with Presnall’s syncopated footwork, touted all the essential components of engaging theater. -- Goldstein
Hearts of Palm, 5:10 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, 5:45 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
What it was like: Damn, Jones and the Dap-Kings know all about the groove. The Dap-Kings got the hour-long groove party with an instrumental before the Jones came out and gave the crowd a dose of her funky good time medicine. They locked into some deep grooves like “How Let a Good Man Down” from her latest album, 100 Days 100 Nights. A bit later in the set, Jones said that when she gets a mike in her hand she starts to lose her head and her body starts to groove. She just can’t help herself. And that seemed to rub off on the crowd as well, as the band got a lot the crowd moving. During “Be Easy,” Jones invited a dude named TRL, who was wearing a super funky get-up and a Mohawk, onstage and basically told the guy how to get down. She’s told him to slow down and, well, just be easy. A while later, she called up three girls on stage to dance with her. Near the end of the set, the crew did a damn fine take on James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.”
Verdict: It might be a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing without Sharon Jones.
The Kills, 6:30 p.m., New Belgium Stage
What it was like: Watching your douchey friend from high school mess around on the guitar with his angry girlfriend in a suburban garage.
Considering the amount of time it took the Kills to set up, finish their sound check and finally take to the stage, one might have expected a grand ensemble, a group with subtle sound requirements and multiple feeds to balance.
That, at least, is what I was expecting, as 10 minutes turned into 15 and the Kills had yet to take stage. As it turned out, I would be sorely disappointed. Apparently, all of the painstaking work went toward balancing the sound of one guitar, two vocal inputs, and what essentially worked as a large-scale drum machine at the back of the stage. As Jamie "Hotel" Hince angrily strummed out simple bar chords and Alison "VV" Mosshart cooed intimidating vocals, the sound was garbled, fuzzy and unclear. For all the preparation and extended sound checks, the band sounded utterly amateur, as shaky rhythm guitar morphed into dissonant solos.
Apparently, the stripped down and melodramatic sound is designed to part of their appeal – a boiled-down mixture of the most petulant and defiant components of rock and roll. Unfortunately, the band’s Belgium Brewery stage appearance lacked the dynamism or sheer skill to make such an experiment successful.
Verdict: I walked up all those stairs for this? Seriously? -- Goldstein
The Wheel, 6:45 p.m., Acoustic Stage
Even though the Wheel had to compete sonically against the Kills (or “Led Zeppelin” as Nathaniel Rateliff referred to them) on the stage upstairs, the trio performed a damn fine set. Rateliff, keyboardist James Han and violinist Carrie Beeder a few tunes from the Wheel’s debut, Desire and Dissolving Men and newer material. Paper Bird’s Esme joined trio on the utterly heartbreaking “Early Spring Till.” Rateliff closed his half-hour set with a rendition a tune by Joseph Pope III, (his Born in the Flood bandmate).
Verdict: Rateliff and company always deliver compelling sets, and Sunday’s set was stellar even if he had to compete with the Killers.
Airborne Toxic Event, 7:50 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Aaron Tackeray
What it was like: Seeing a band with potential take its first, faltering steps toward greatness.
California-based Airborne Toxic Event seemed to revel in their first Denver performance, stating the fact several times after explaining their relative newness. The release of their first album about a year ago has initiated the touring schedule, the long roster of dates that serves as the path to a larger future career.
The quintet’s freshness was apparent, but so was a future potential. While the chords fell flat at times, and the success of the song structure varied, the band boasted an energy and underlying talent that bodes well for their future.
Guitarist and lead singer Mikel Jollett combined a Nick Cave aesthetic with a mellower, tenor tone, leading the ensemble through speedy tunes with an engaging enthusiasm. Similarly, keyboardist and violist Anna Bulbrook whipped up an energy all her own with her antics, which saw her running across the stage, standing on an elevated vantage and dancing with her fellow band members.
Verdict: A strong initial showing. All that’s left is to see where they go from here. -- Goldstein
Akron/Family, 8 p.m., New Belgium Stage Photo by Aaron Thackeray
Hockey, 6:30 p.m., Gigbot Stage
What it was like: Watching four really talented 13-year-olds.
There’s an essay—hell, maybe a book—to be written about the disco-crazed indie rock of the aughts and the people who’ve played it, the ubiquity of ostensibly sexually charged music played by men in their mid-twenties who try as hard as possible to look like adolescents, and Portland’s Hockey would be as good of a place to start as any. Looking for all the world like pubescent boys—oh, how valiantly they’ve all tried to grow facial hair!—they took the stage to a tiny crowd and proceeded to play—you guessed it—more dance rock, as competently as anybody else I’ve heard recently. Still, though, I miss the days when this stuff was still novel and exciting, and in one of the few lyrics I picked out, the lead singer alluded to this, saying something along the lines of, “everybody makes dance music nowadays, but I’ve been doing it since 2002.” A quick look at their MySpace page seems to indicate otherwise, but at least they’re willing to acknowledge the fact that they’re far from the first to combine disco beats and guitars.
Verdict: I was as excited as anybody else when dancepunk hit several years ago, but now that we’ve gotten to a point where a band as thoroughly competent—and occasionally even exciting—as Hockey seems like just another dime-a-dozen rock band, I think maybe it’s time to move on.
The Whigs, 5:50 p.m., Woxy.com
What it was like: Being in a sweaty club in Athens, GA—or Chapel Hill or Austin—in 1993.
I once heard Spoon referred to as “indie rock without adjectives,” and I can’t think of a better description for Athens, GA’s the Whigs. Due to their utter lack of ersatz electronics, pseudo-“dance” beats, and irony, they came off by default like throwbacks, specifically to the indie rock of the ’90s, and they were incredibly refreshing in a lineup choked to death with tongue-in-cheek dance rock. They come from a town with a long and storied history of tuneful indie rock, and they seemed completely worthy heirs, rocking out harder and more sincerely than any other band I’d seen so far, playing the kinds of songs that are paradoxically too ragged and too complex to ever be on the radio, and so much better for it.
The verdict: The Whigs are still pretty new to the scene, and still unsigned, yet they packed the area in front of the woxy.com stage completely full, and many of the spectators seemed to be passionate fans. Are we finally approaching the end of irony-choked indie rock?
Does it Offend You , Yeah?, 7:10 p.m., Woxy.com Stage
What it was like: Listening to a band from the next room.
I guess I underestimated the popularity of British electro-rockers Does It Offend You, Yeah?, because I approached the woxy.com stage right as their set began to find a security guard turning people away at the door. So I went outside, up the stairs, across the top of the amphitheater, and back down to the other entrance, and found people getting turned back even farther away from the venue. So I went back to the other side and stood by the door, hoping to get what I could from the performance. That turned out not to be much. I could hear the band well enough to hear yet more dance rock—have I complained about that enough today?—but not enough to hear the details. So I stood there for about 15 minutes, then decided to cut my losses—not many, by my reckoning—and go look at the beautiful full moon instead.
Verdict: Hard to say, but I don’t think I missed much. -- Smith
Band of Horses, 7:15 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
Paper Bird, 8:15 p.m., Acoustic Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
What it was like: It might’ve been the first time these three gals and three guys who make up Paper Bird got mooned by a guy in the crowd. Well, they asked for it. They said they’d give a CD to anyone who showed some butt. But the band’s debut, Anything Nameless and Joymaking, is worth a lot more than that. It’s a golden disc, and what’s cool about the CD is that you can take those heavenly vocal harmonies anywhere. But it’s too bad you can’t take a show like Sunday’s put it in your pocket and take it home. A few favorites included “Jesus and Arizona,” “Pennies from Heaven” and the awesome “St. Louis,” which had most folks in the crowd dancing.
Verdict: Just wish the set would’ve gone on for another few hours. -- Solomon
Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, 8:30 p.m., Woxy.com Stage
What it was like: Crashing an elite party.
By the end of Sunday night, the fire marshals were taking crowd control into their own hands. Judging by the packed crowds that filled both the Gigbot and the woxy.com stage on Saturday night, there were fire hazard issues.
The end result was a closed door policy for shows like Dan Le Sac, a guideline that saw grumbling crowds standing outside shut wooden doors.
Of course, the upside was added space for those who managed to weasel their way in, and I was one of the lucky few.
Dan and Scroobius’ conversational introductions to their tunes, all delivered in a charming British monotone, helped set an intimate feel for the set, which revolved around rich beats and anecdotal rhymes.
While getting in the doors lent for unlimited headaches, the benefit was in the sparser room and the added comfort in enjoying Dan’s inimitable brand of hip-hop. The textures recalled some of the more melodic sounds of Tim Fite, while boasting a velocity that summoned the best of the old-school DJs.
Verdict: A wonderfully spacious way to enjoy a talented duo. -- Goldstein
TV on the Radio, 8:45 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Chad Fahnestock
The Giraffes, 9:10 p.m., Gigbot Stage Photo by Jon Solomon
What it was like: I hate to say it, but why the hell does a band as raw and muscular as it is have to have such a pansy-ass name like the Giraffes? Maybe it’s ironic as fuck, I just wish these guys would’ve picked something with some meat on it. I mean, these guys blew the fucking lid off the Gigbot Stage with their loud-ass, in-your-face, balls-out rock. Sure, they might’ve been drinking all day, but they just blasted through one swaggering cut after another. Frontman Aaron Lazar was a madman not in the spastic freak out way, but more of that restrained psycho kind of way, putting out a cigarette on his forearm or chewing on a plastic wristband and thinking that maybe, just maybe, he might actually swallow it.
Verdict: The most powerful shit I heard all weekend. -- Solomon
CSS, 9:45 p.m., New Belgium Stage
What it was like: I stared at CSS’s singer Lovefoxxx for a long time trying to figure out what the hell she was wearing. At first glance, her get-up that added a few feet of girth around her, looked like a bunch of cut up aluminum cans tied together. Or maybe a Christmas three doused in tinsel. Needless to say, it was bit distracting but it didn’t seem to get in the way of her rocking the mike during the beginning of the set on “Jager Yoga” and “Left Behind,” both of which are on the band’s latest effort, Donkey. After taking off her massive outfit, Lovefoxxx joked about how she felt like Mariah Carey with all the wind blowing her hair. But hey, the CSS gals are way cooler than Carey could ever be, and I doubt she could bodies moving the way CSS did, especially on near the end of set on “Alala” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen Death From Above.”
Verdict: They might be tired of being sexy, but they got the dance grooves that kill.
Justice, 10:30 p.m., Main Stage Photo by Mark C. Austin
What it was like: Coitus interruptus. With machines.
As a trend, the whole Ed Banger/French Touch thing may be so last year, but I was still thankful that Justice came to show all the other lame-ass “dance” bands of the day—most of which were a lot more than one year behind—how the hell it’s done. Justice make dance music that doesn’t so much move your hips as kick you in the stomach, and I was hoping they would be just the thing to get us to forget the chill of this September evening.
They took the stage a few minutes late, owing to TV on the Radio’s belated exit, but from the first few bars of “Genesis,” they had the crowd enraptured (pun absolutely intended). Justice’s sense of spectacle is a big part of their appeal; flanked on either side by a three-by-three stack of Marshall amps (which are used for lighting, not amplification, but still), the fashionably filthy Parisians stand behind a massive bank of electronic equipment with lots of blinky lights on the front and a huge illuminated cross in the center. As French stadium-house productions go, it’s not quite a giant illuminated pyramid, but, hey, one should work up to those things.
So yes, they owe much of their shtick to Daft Punk, but they owe just as much to AC/DC and Black Sabbath; one would never bang one’s head to Daft Punk, but that’s just what we were doing when, as “Genesis” segued into “Phantom,” the music cut out. The duo—Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay—stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out what happened before walking off stage to let a roadie fix whatever broke. Thankfully, that only took a few minutes, and then they came back on stage, de Rosnay giving us a sheepish “what can you do?” shrug, and continued.
For close to the next hour, everything went wonderfully. Justice definitely know how to work a crowd; they mix parts of different songs together in teasing ways, but that’s nothing compared to the way they withhold those pummeling beats. For agonizing minutes at a time, they would drop out the drums and build slowly back up to them; all good DJs do this, but the duo had the crowd in such thrall that the effect became almost sexual. So it was almost literally like our collective mom walked in when, at about 11:40, at the most climactic moment yet, the music cut out again. The crowd groaned loudly, in unison, and the boys in leather looked genuinely distraught. A roadie came up again and fiddled around some more, but after a few minutes, the blinky lights on the front of their console went out. The crowd maintained good humor, though, at least for a bit; we all chanted “We are your friends/You’ll never be alone again/So come on”—from “We Are Your Friends,” their breakthrough single—for a while, which seemed to please Auge and de Rosnay, who came and hung out at the front of the stage for a couple minutes, shrugging more and acting hopeful. But more and more time passed, and they walked off stage, and then “Eye of the Tiger” came on the P.A., though the house lights remained down. A couple minutes later, de Rosnay could be dimly seen standing behind the console, making the cut-off motion, and shortly afterward, the lights came up, and the crowd groaned more. De Rosnay knelt down and pled fealty, half-heartedly throwing down a keyboard before walking off stage for good. And thus we left, frustrated and unfulfilled, into the windy almost-fall night.
Verdict: Well, I guess massive equipment failure is a constant risk in electronic music, but while the boys were appropriately humble, you’d think an act of their profile would be able to avoid this sort of thing. But who knows. What we did get, though, was quite enjoyable.
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