Live Review: M83 Brings Its Cinematic New Album to the Stage at Mezzanine
M83 at Mezzanine last night.
Nov. 10, 2011
Better than: Lil B freestyling over an M83 song (Google it).
Walking up to Mezzanine last night, I saw people buying scalped tickets at three times the face value without hesitation. The excitement leading up to this show was pretty intense: it's been sold out since July -- way before M83's new album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, came out. The first thing inside the club is the merch table, and I hope the vinyl nerds picked up a copy of the latest album at the show, because it was the limited edition blue and pink version, which was previously only sold at Urban Outfitters. (I had the misfortune of having to go in-store to buy it a few weeks ago.) While waiting for the opener to come on, I realized there was no DJ -- hence no club-banging music -- and it was a refreshing feeling. It seems like every show, they throw on some local DJ who doesn't know how to warm up a crowd. I never thought I would say this, but I actually enjoyed the sound engineer's iPod music.
Opening the show to an already full club was Active Child. Between the choir-like voice and the harp playing, many people seemed thrown off by what they were actually witnessing. It took me a while to appreciate this band on record, but live it's great to see what a talented act it is. Even though the crowd was pretty unresponsive to the 45-minute set of material from Active Child's newest album and debut EP, I don't think there were any complaints about it by the time it was over.
After a short set change, I realized I was in a sea of dudes. I haven't witnessed the extreme lack of girls at a show since I went to Kylie Minogue earlier this year, which is a whole other story. When the lights dimmed, a person came onstage dressed as the weird monster from the cover of the latest album. After a short, creepy appearance, they left the stage and the members of M83 came out and went straight into "Intro," from the new album. (Side note: at the L.A. show the night before, Zola Jesus came out to perform her duties on the track). After a few minor backing music setbacks, they went into "Reunion" & "Kim & Jessie." The rest of the night was a showcase of songs from the most recent two albums, which included revamped versions of "We Own The Sky," and "Couleurs." Sadly, the band only played one song older than the latest two albums. But I can't blame them too much, seeing the older stuff is a lot mellower and would change the flow of the set.
Overall the vibe of the whole crowd was pretty mundane the entire night. Was the show too early and people not drunk enough yet? Well, the girl next to me apparently was having the time of her life, especially when she pushed her way to the front and decided to start dancing onstage, only to be ushered off by the dress suit-wearing bouncer. She seemed confused about why she wasn't allowed to be dancing on stage. (This seems to be a constant occurrence at Mezzanine -- my favorite one was at Miami Horror, when the singer told the person to "fuck off.")
Going into the show, I didn't know what to expect. I've seen M83 twice before. Once was really good (Download Festival at Shoreline, 7/19/08), and the other time it was very boring and dragged on a long time (The Fillmore, 11/28/08). I heard the last show at Mezzanine was a snoozer, too. But to my surprise, the band was in full force. At times I felt I was more at a rock concert than an electronic music show, especially since there were three guitars onstage at many points. I would recommend seeing the band again on this current tour if it ever comes back -- just don't expect a giant dance party.
Personal bias: I'm still upset that the show was moved from the Independent.
Random Detail: I found a NIN guitar pick on the floor when I first walked in, only to notice Justin Meldal-Johnsen walking by me five minutes later. (Later on he performed a handful of songs with the band.)
By the way: If you don't like overbearing crowds, avoid sold-out shows at Mezzanine. They tend to oversell it and squish everyone in to an uncomfortable level.