Fun Fun Fun Fest
FFF6 in review: M83 gets massive
Thank goodness the French indie pop act M83 were scheduled on the large rock stage rather than the medium-sized electronic one (where their musical ideas would've fit just fine) on Saturday afternoon. Judging by the throngs of people who crowded the general vicinity, the group's last two albums Saturdays = Youth and the recent Hurry Up, We're Dreaming have catapulted them to a much larger level of recognition among Austin music fans.
The show started on a wobbly note, as frontman Anthony Gonzalez's microphone dropped out so often during the first five minutes that he simply gave up and had female vocalist Morgan Kibby take the reins until everything was sorted out. The standard reference for M83's recent sound is that they resemble the best bits of a John Hughes soundtrack—and when the group sang "You came out of nowhere...stealing my heart!" on "Reunion," the reference seemed far more apt than lazy. The wash of synths, "whoa-oh-oh" refrains and moody new wave chord progressions was downright dreamy in the late fall park setting, especially with whipping wind and the Austin skyline looming in the background.
Compared to our last M83 show in 2005, it was obvious that the band had grown tremendously as a live entity—no small feat given the huge portion of electronics in the compositions. The music played well to a field of people in a park, and as the group kicked off 2008 hit "Kim And Jessie," the band looked confident and happy as they worked the crowd into a collective swoon. While the mainstage 5:30 p.m. slot was no insult, one couldn't help but notice that the light rig was working hard but we couldn't see the results—perhaps the band can earn their way to a later spot at a future festival!
Throughout the show, the crowd danced, but not wildly—this is mostly music to sway or cuddle to. The new anthem "Midnight City" was perhaps the signature moment of the set, as the relatively up-tempo song seemed to ignite mass movement and excitement. Our other highlight was another new number using a similar template—Hurry Up's soaring "Steve McQueen," which ended with the band leading the crowd in a massive hand-clapping frenzy from atop the stage monitors.
The band were clearly pleased with the size of the audience and the warm mood of the crowd, repeatedly exclaiming "Look at you!" As the show ended, the audience jumped to the music, and M83 walked offstage having conquered both the dust and the audience. The set was a true highlight of the weekend amongst some significant competition.