There’s a reason that French electronic outfit M83 has found a niche in crafting big-budget film soundtracks, and that reason was highlighted emphatically Tuesday night as Anthony Gonzalez led his troupe through a rapturous expose of their discography. Opening with the violent crashes of synths and percussion that riddle “Reunion,” M83 spent the next nearly two hours building a vehement anxiety within the crowded confines of the Fox Theatre Pomona with their sweeping electronica symphonies. Like a philharmonic plugged into a massive sound system, M83 was a cyclone of ferocious 80’s-powered dance gymnastics and climactic orchestral themes. Whether it was pedaling out the propulsive synth eruptions in “Do It, Try It,” or the blown-out rush of hyperactive instrumentals that burst throughout “Steve McQueen,” Gonzalez and his small triage have developed a knack for doing an ungodly amount with surprisingly little help.
As the frenzied, synth-embattled crescendo of “Intro” buzzed and roared against Gonzalez’s triumphant howls, joined seconds laters by Kaela Sinclair’s (Morgan Kibby’s entrancing replacement) deep echoes before exploding into a glittering climax of harmonic bliss–fans found themselves adrift in the dreamy soundscapes of M83’s consciousness. From that moment on, through the disco trailblazer “Road Blaster” to the warped synth yelps and dizzying electrics of “Midnight City,” Gonzalez and company reemerged as not only the decade’s colossal electronic pioneers, but as the unparalleled creator’s of live music’s most dynamic performers. M83 doesn’t require the synchronized lights shows, pyrotechnics, and other self-indulgent distractors; their electronic orchestra’s careful compositions pluck at and electrify your heartstrings with such deliberate poignancy that it is impossible to neither dance or weep to their creations.
Before their extensive encore, M83 ended the first half of their set with the aptly titled “Outro.” Apart from being one of the greatest endings to an album ever recorded, live, the track’s rupturing build-up from a sublime whine to a booming climax of swelling strings and hysterical percussion was like watching the universe collapse in on itself, a quiet twinkle of piano keys the only thing existing in its aftermath. After the crowd threatened to demolish the Fox Theatre with their screams, M83 returned to the stage one last time to the shuddering synth flows of “We Own the Sky,” bubbling up with the delirious heat of Gonzalez’s murmurs.
Electropop trio Yacht opened the night for M83, drawing in early arrivers and loyal fans with their dance-punk romps. Lead singer Claire Evans, a bundle of sultry weirdness and flailing dances onstage, brought together the group’s excessively delectable beats with her off-hand wails.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward