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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    M83 redeemed after its recent album release

    It was a night of sonic bombast when synthrock band M83 took front and center at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday.

    The opener for the night was YACHT, which derives its name not from a ship of luxury, but from “Young American Challenging High Technology,” an education program that founder Jona Bechtolt attended when he was growing up in Portland, Oregon.

    It’s honestly a little hard to imagine that this group of dance-punks would ever find themselves on something as haughtily regarded as a yacht.

    Framed between two men — one of which was Bechtolt — who were at the helm of the keyboards and turntables, lead singer Claire L. Evans and her possessed stage presence were the center of attention, and rightfully so.

    Early in their set, Evans answered a call from a corded phone. She told the crowd that Tucson is calling, and that was enough kick to things off and send the audience into whoops and hollers.

    Evans also teased taking her jacket off throughout the show — Who can blame her? It’s Arizona in April — exposing an arm here and an arm there, eliciting all sorts of approving yips and yowls from the audience.

    As someone totally unfamiliar with the group, the time watching was entertaining and passed quickly. It wasn’t too hard to get caught up in the electronic-infused punk-pop.

    After a 30-minute changeover, it was time for the main act: M83.

    Throughout the course of the show, it struck me how M83 and leader Anthony Gonzalez embraced the overall concept and camaraderie of a “band.”

    In their entrance, the band walked on silently and quickly in the darkness in the no-nonsense style of true professionals that knew there was a job to be done. This was also the only time of their set that showcased anything remotely resembling quiet.

    There was no time wasted getting to the hits, opening with the high-pitched, soaring vocals of Gonzalez and the hard-hitting guitars of “Reunion.” They then moved into “Do It, Try It,” the single off of their latest album, Junk, which just came out April 8.

    Related: Check out our review of M83’s latest album, Junk.

    The delightful retro cheese of the ’80s from Gonzalez’ childhood is the fabric of the new album.

    As M83 made its way through a set comprised mostly from the sweeping Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and Junk, that sense of band camaraderie showed through. 

    Gonzalez would walk around the stage with his guitar in hand, always in command, but also always encouraging and interacting with his bandmates. Lead guitarist Jordan Lawler, keyboardist and vocalist Kaela Sinclair and  drummer Loïc Maurin were always given time to strut and shine.

    With huge power ballads, M83 is always in constant climax. There are so many layers of sound — from synths and guitars and drums and voices — that it’s almost tangible in the air enveloping you.

    If there were a climax to the constant climax, it would be the triple threat of “Wait,” the somberly nostalgic song most made famous from “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Go!,” the infectiously fun single off Junk with guest vocalist Mai Lan and a song that probably needs no accompanying description, “Midnight City.” In the performance’s moment of culmination, Young wailed out the saxophone solo — a moment of pure euphoria and triumph.

    If I have one complaint to level — and, really, complaining of excess when talking about M83 is redundant — it’s that the show peaked at “Midnight City.” The proceeding encore, which seemed to consist of half a dozen songs, lingered ever so slightly. Again, though, complaining about a band giving a generous encore is probably the best criticism to ever give.

    At the end, and in the first time I’ve ever seen this at the Rialto, Gonzalez and his fellow performers, side-by-side, bowed to the crowd, grateful to us, and we cheered and clapped, grateful for them.

    Follow Alex Guyton on Twitter.

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