There was a massive amount of hype around M83's
appearance at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival
this year, but that was nothing compared to the hype that surrounded their sideshows at the Prince. The band quickly sold out their first show, and after Wu Lyf was dropped from the Laneway bill, it allowed the French act to take their sideshow date and make it their own. Basically, it meant that M83 had successfully sold out two sideshows, whilst also appearing at a festival. Not a small achievement for a touring act.
This meant that squeezing myself into a solid vantage point for the band's set was easier imagined than done, as a sold out Prince really is a sold out venue. There was barely room to move - let alone dance - as bodies upon bodies of keen punters were stacked up to the walls, each one as eager to witness a massive show as the next. This was the second of the sideshows and also the first one to sell out, so it was expected that both crowd and band would be ready to let loose. And they did.
I'm not sure if it was the sweat dripping into my eyes, the intense light show (which included the most stand-alone lights I've ever seen at the Prince) or the amount of dancing that took place, but the night is now one amazing blur of light and atmospheric sound.
Beginning in an odd yet typical M83 style, a monster-like creature entered the stage and raised its arms up, almost hailing the sea of fans. It took a couple of seconds to take it in, but it then dawned on me that the creature was none other than the 'thing' that graced the cover of the 'Midnight City' single. But before I could take a breath the creature was gone and M83 appeared.
Their hour and fifteen minute set began with the Intro track from the band's latest LP, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
, with the ever-amazing keyboardist Morgan Kibby taking the vocal duties that Zola Jesus has on the album. From then on in, it was an incredible display of raw talent and energy from the five-piece. Whether it was the intense alternating guitar/bass work from lead man Anthony Gonzalez and his brother Yaan, the incredibly intricate and fast-paced drum patterns created by drummer Loic Morrin, Kibby's amazing vocal range, the way Yann smashed away at the drum pad (one of my favourite moments of the night) or just the raw showmanship of Anthony himself as a front man, there was something or someone to keep your eyes on at all times.
The band worked together as a family and looked as though they were having just as rad a time as the crowd losing their minds below them. And although crowd interaction was minimal, apart from a heart-felt thankyou from Gonzalez at the conclusion, it was for the right reasons. They came to play, and play is what they did.
The highlights of the show came from the small surprises that were spread through the set. For a band that have put in such an effort (an amazing one at that), to create walls upon walls of atmospheric pop and shoegaze, M83's performance went off like it was a French underground rave. There is a definite leaning towards the electronic side of their music in the band's live shows, whilst still managing to keep their atmospheric creations alive.
Equally surprising was the set list. For an act that is touring a brand new 18-track double album, it wouldn't have been out of the question for their set to be full of new songs. But this was not the case - in fact their set was almost split half/half between new and old, with some of their Saturdays = Youth
tracks (such as 'Kim & Jessie) or even 'Sitting' from their 2001 debut, outshining the latest ones.
And finally, perhaps the biggest surprise of them all, the band did not finish with the song that came in at number five for triple j's Hottest 100. Although many in the crowd may have been unimpressed, to me it was perfect as it allowed M83 to go out on a huge high. Smashing through an extended version of 'Couleurs' featuring some of Yann's fantastically cool drum pad skills and Anthony's incredible live presence, they then exited to screams for more encores from the adoring crowd.
There were many reasons to be taken aback by M83's performance, but regardless of what they were, each person that streamed onto the streets of St Kilda after the show knew they had witnessed something special.