Daft Punk, WaMu Theater, Seattle, WA, July 29, 2007
Ten years after the release of their classic debut, Homework, Daft Punk embarked on a long-awaited tour across America with only seven dates on its roster (the final show, and only East Coast appearance, is August 9 at Coney Island’s Keyspan Park). Their performance at Seattle's WaMu Theater last Sunday proved breath-taking, and typically difficult to describe. As the lights built up with the music, Daft Punk told a story that climaxed with "Human After All;" the words HUMAN and TOGETHER spread across the entire back wall of the stage. The crowd, soaked in sweat, journeyed with Daft Punk as they rollercoastered through funk, rock, techno, and house, mashing up one song into another, and spending an extra amount of time on key songs like "Technologic" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger."
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the pair that makes up Daft Punk, spread climaxes throughout the performance, touching nerves of the large assortment of punks, ravers, goths, preps and recovered versions of all four. For me, it was the second of silence in which I took a breath and out shot "Da Funk" from within the pyramid stage set-up, catapulting me back onto my mother's couch around the age of 15. I recalled seeing that peculiar Spike Jonze music video on MTV, which featured a bipedal, six-foot dog in a trenchcoat named Charles wandering aimlessly down New York City with a ghettoblaster in hand. It was a moment of pure nostalgia, until, suddenly, Daft Punk cut through with their signature move of kicking the bass and treble up ten notches past sonic boundaries you didn't even know they were working within. The amount of times I saw chins drop, hands cover mouths, and groups of people scream "Ohhhhhh my god!" were multiple.
Revisiting the Daft Punk catalogue now ― from the start of Homework all the way through 2005's Human After All ― shows no signs that their music has aged. What adds to their reputation is the grandiose stage set-up for this tour, which includes an array of MiDi controllers on the inside and enormous LED screens that enclose the boys within the eye of a giant, three-dimensional pyramid. Imagine what the New York show will be like ― the ballpark is outdoors and next to one of the most legendary American amusements parks.
The Seattle show also brought me back to 2003: Richard D. James (a/k/a. Aphex Twin) played a one hour set in the middle of the night at the annual Sonar Festival in Barcelona. What happened in those sixty minutes is so difficult to properly explain that four years later I’m still at a loss. Daft Punk’s mind-blowing performance rendered me in a similar state.
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