Daft Punk w/ The Rapture – [Live]

Friday, 03 August 2007

The pairing of Daft Punk and The Rapture is one of those genius moves of billing that might be best understood by underpaid music writers who have nothing better to do than think about these things. On the one hand, you've got The Rapture—one-time skronky post-punks who have completely embraced dance music culture and have created some truly remarkable indie/dance hybrids in the process. It's a simple fact that "House of Jealous Lovers" was the track that dance music needed to invigorate the floors with some of punk's energy again. Then there's the matter of Daft Punk—who have emerged as strange figureheads for dance's current post-punk warriors. This thanks to the precision, repetition and minimalist funk 'n' grind of their best material. In other words, this line-up is totally awesome!

The Rapture have been on tour for ages, but this show at Berkeley's open air Greek Theater is a sort of homecoming for the group who haven't been played in these parts (where it all began) for nearly three years. The sun is still out when they take to the stage, but they don't let the blinding reality of ravers in broad daylight (shudder) lessen their enthusiasm. This is the group's first night with the French duo and it's intent that they are going full throttle—maximum overdrive, if you will accept more auto-related metaphors. Charging through "House of …" as well as their pulsating T. Rex ode, "First Gear," and the undeniable ragged party funk of "Whoo! Alright," The Rapture shake and shimmy with tight pants and guitars and you know this is probably the best night of their lives.

As good as The Rapture are, the reality of the daylight (which conspicuously fades as they finish their set), makes it all clear that this is a rock group dancing it up. There is a certain terrestrial anchor around their necks that isn't going to be lifted any time soon.

The same cannot be said for Daft Punk, who arrive to a stage and evening that is pitch black, with flickers of cell phones and LEDs allowing the densely packed 8,000 fans to know there is somehow a gigantic pyramid onstage. Contact is made through some cursory Close Encounters tones and the introduction of the "human/robot" dialogue and boom! we're off and running. For a good hour and a half, we are treated to a blinding array of alien dance funk and retro-futuristic light shows—generally involving geometric shapes. The crowd is going so insane you'd think Jimi Hendrix was giving John Lennon a piggypack ride onstage. But it's understandable. Daft Punk have built their career on an alternate-reality mystique—one that is basically that space robots are here to teach us all how to party. They do that through providing the hugest beats and biggest bass lines and myriad wiggly synths with the odd bit of vocoder-rigged lyrics. It's so simple and yet so ridiculously massive when it comes out of the speakers that it's overwhelming. Who can challenge their basic mission—which is to bring everyone to the peak of euphoric release, and then make us beg for more.

A world where an alien presence is not there to bomb the holy living hell out of us, but to take our guitars and rock with them robot-style—and then ratchet up the funk quotient and then celebrate over and over again. And how does it all end? Struggle, enslavement, submission? No sir, it ends with robots and humans living together in peace and extending the party into green lawns of the UC Berkeley campus and eventually into an overcrowded BART train back to San Francsico with people still blaring "One More Time" out of their portable boomboxes. Uh, I'll take that over Code Orange any day.

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