M83's '80s inspired epic emotional songs are becoming increasingly popular, and their recent double album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming has seen them reach new levels of success. Propelled by the infectious single "Midnight City," it's gotten mainstream radio play and attracted a whole new legion of fans, enough to sell out Club Nokia in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Live, M83 has a massive sound, synths and voices echoing through the arena with power and clarity that makes their songs come alive. From a pure musicianship standpoint, the show was a massive success. The songs were lush and easy to get lost in, but most of the crowd response was fairly low key. People seemed to enjoy the show, but the pit area was still for most songs, with more cell phones taking photos than people dancing. And, the majority of the upper deck remained seated for most songs.
One of the hardest things about a band like M83 playing live is that though the crowd is drawn in by their big singles and danceable pop songs with huge hooks, a lot of the band's work is more ambient. It sounds great on record, and I think worked very well live, but it doesn't connect with people in the same way, particularly over 90 minutes or so of performing.
What that meant is that a lot of the songs washed together, and the crowd was appreciative, but never rapt in the way that can make for a truly extraordinary concert experience. Frontman Anthony Gonzales kept it pretty low key, and it wasn't until the second half of the show that he really reached out to engage the crowd. He's someone new to this level of fame and crowds of this size, and will probably learn how to better navigate an arena crowd. But for now, there wasn't quite the stage presence needed to ignite the fans.