As I entered the area of the Sony Stage for M83 yesterday at sunset, I couldn’t help but feel a bit apprehensive about how Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez would translate his dreamy electronic studio perfection into a live setting, and more importantly how the audience might perceive this introverted musician beyond 2011′s breakthrough “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. As they began with “Intro”, the first track off of “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, my worries proved unwarranted. Mr. Gonzalez and company were neither aloof or disengaged, but rather humble and very engaging. Raising his arms often to invite audience participation, Gonzales helped pull us into his world. Further, this Lollapalooza audience simply loved it. Having a pen and paper and taking notes during the set confirmed my perception of the audience. Not only do people seem to think what he’s doing is “bleeping awesome,” but they tend to say things to you like “This is the best bleeping band at Lollapalooza” and “Did you know he’s French?”
Patience and openness serve as a perfect basis through which to experience M83. By the time they began “We Own The Sky” from 2008′s “Saturdays = Youth,” I had reached a conclusion about this group. This was music that you simply had to feel. Each song has its own story to tell, whether the story is told with bristling energy or gently, like laying your head on a cold pillow. Letting go and having the music absorb you becomes the ultimate goal of seeing M83 live. Each song builds in its own way. By “We Own The Sky,” we were all absorbed. This was freedom to enjoy the sounds of the 80′s without the embarrassment!
When the sun finally set over Lollapalooza, M83 performed their biggest hit from “Hurry Up…”, “Midnight City”. As if perfectly timed, everyone began to dance with the illuminated Chicago skyline behind them. By the close of the performance, the dance-a-thon had intensified through the song “Couleurs” as M83′s atmosphere enveloped us, then abruptly dropped us back into reality amid a chorus of cheers and applause. Sometimes ethereal, sometimes raw, sometimes moving, but always fun. Over the course of about an hour, M83 worked the crowd better than I could have ever hoped for.
It’s nice to see a group that deserves attention getting it at long last, especially when the Lollapalooza crowd gives it to them.
– Ryan Paroline, WXRT, Chicago