M83 Translate Eclectic Catalogue Into Stellar Live Performance For Sold Out Austin Crowd (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

M83 returned to Austin on Sunday night, touring in support of their latest album, Junk. Even with a five-year break between album releases, a fervent enthusiasm from Austinites awaited the French-electro outfit in the form of a very sold out show at Stubb’s. To say M83’s Hurry Up We’re Dreaming made an impact on the musical landscape in 2011 is a grave understatement. Countless artists have chased and emulated M83’s sound on songs like “Midnight City” since. Anthony Gonzalez and his band brought their trademark expansive and infectious sound to a live setting in Austin in a grandiose and well-executed fashion that only they can.

Yacht proved to be a great opener for M83 that mixed their confection choruses with some top notch showmanship by lead-singer Claire Evans. Her Annie Lennox-like presence coincided with the band’s avant-garde nature to elicit genuine interest from a crowd, of which the majority didn’t seem to know who they were watching at the beginning of the set.

M83 assumed the stage with power and preciseness. Opening their set with “Reunion”, the larger than life track from Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, the lighting and sound onstage were in perfect synchronicity. “Do It, Try It” was the first song played off their new album, and although the aesthetic seemed a bit more disjointed and jerkier than the norm, the 80’s tropicalia was appealing. “Steve Mcqueen” and the spacy older favorite “We Own The Sky” came next, revving the crowd up with familiarity.

M83 then laid the new album on thick with songs “Lazer Gun,” “For The Kids”, “Wait”  and “Go.” Vocalist Mai Lan is a featured collaborator on “Lazer Gun” and succeeds in adding a healthy dose of sexiness along with her call-and-response.

M83 closed their set with fan favorites “Wait”, possibly one of the most beautiful and emotional songs written in the last decade, and “Midnight City” sounded better live than any recording, making the crowd nearly riotous, while “Echoes of Mine” and “Outro” capped off the set.

A formidable encore was raised before the hard curfew of 10:30 at Stubb’s, starting with “OK Pal” and “Road Blaster”, the best surprise of the night, using a deadly saxophone hook and a classic 80’s dance line to synthesize absolute bliss. “Oblivion” and “Walkaway Blues” were played magnificently and the encore concluded with “Couleurs” and “Lower Your Eyelids and Die With The Sun.”

Anthony Gonzalez has acknowledged and applied his talent for writing music that is perfect for film scores. His combination of shoegaze and ambient electro has allowed him to evoke ethereal soundscapes and stir emotions with impressive dexterity. His music can transcend genres, tastes and aesthetics, but whether it’s closer to Explosions In the Sky or Prince, there is no questioning M83’s ability to translate their eclectic catalogue into a stellar live performance.

Photos by Maggie Boyd. 

M83 Setlist Stubb's Bar-B-Q, Austin, TX, USA 2016

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