NPR Music and KCRW’s Metropolis Launch Event feat. Cut Copy
Le Poisson Rouge
November 19, 2013
Although I cover an astounding number of diverse shows over the course of the year, I have to admit that being out and about late on a Tuesday, as i was last Tuesday, when most people are normally concerned with being at work on time is extremely badass. But what made last Tuesday so special was the fact that NPR Music, KCRW FM in Los Angeles and Metropolis, one of the nation’s top indie electro pop and electronica radio programs were launching a rather unique partnership between the three, and they did so in a rather large fashion with Cut Copy playing a free, sold out show at Le Poisson Rouge in the West Village, to promote the release of their fourth and latest effort, Free Your Mind.
After waiting outside in the cold for a bit, the anxiously excited (and fairly young) crowd was entertained by an impressive DJ set by Metropolis host Jason Bentley. Bentley, who’s been KCRW’s Musical Director and host of Morning Becomes Electric also has a reputation as an internationally known DJ who has spun at major festivals in Ibiza, Australia, the UK and others managed to spin much more obscure but incredibly danceable tunes for an hour. And although i thought Bentley was killing it, my general sense wa s that the crowd desperately wanted Cut Copy (and hell, I did too).
KCRW’s Metropolis host Jason Bentley on the 1s and 2s. As I mentioned his hour long set was pretty dope.
Although Cut Copy has been playing shows at venues, 5,6 and even 7 times larger than Le Poisson Rouge, catching them in such an intimate space with about 200 other fans was special, especially since the band has become something of an international phenomenon, thanks to the critical and commercial success of their incredible sophomore effort, In Ghost Colours and their disappointing (in my mind) Zonoscope. And like a lot of bands of international stature, they had some stage effects – mainly a small array of lights, meant not to distract from the actual material, which is slickly produced, densely layered with synths, guitar, bass and other effects, full of incredibly tight hooks, and incredibly danceable. Interestingly, their set was comprised mostly of songs from In Ghost Colours (“So Haunted,” “Hearts on Fire,” “Out There On The Ice” “Lights and Music”). a couple of songs from Zonoscope (“Need You Now,” “Take Me Over” and one other that I sadly can’t remember right now) and several songs from the new effort (“Free Your Mind,” “Let Me Show You Love,” “We Are Explorers” and “Meet Me In a House of Love”).
Their set started off with a fairly straightforward version of “Free Your Mind” with some minor variations here and there – for the most part it was slightly more percussive and here and there they began to stretch out a groove just enough to create a free-flowing, almost jam-like feel. “So Haunted” was played as an enthusiastic, feedback-laden-like garage band jam with the members of the band jumping about like lunatics. At one point their guitarist Tim Hoey began smashing a mic stand, like Carlos Beltran hitting a double, against drummer Michael Scott’s cymbals. “Hearts on Fire” had the entire audience lustily singing along to the song’s chorus, while “Take Me Over” suddenly reminded me of St. Lucia, thanks to the reverberating drums and airy feel.
The live version of “Out There On The Ice” was an extended version that pulsated with an urgent need, and had turned the room into a sweaty, dance party. “Let Me Show You Love” is one of the better songs off Free Your Mind as it manages to be a perfect synthesis of the sound of each of their previous releases. And during that song, I didn’t notice that a very sweaty Hoey jumped into the crowd. When he jumped back on the stage, the band sped up the groove on “Show You Love” periodically as a segue into “We Are Explorers,” a track that live sounds as though it could had been a B-side on Colours. This was followed by “Need You Now,” which isn’t my particular favorite but live, the song reminded me quite a bit of the Eurythmics, thanks to it’s pulsating synths – in particular, I thought of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."
With an enthralled crowd begging for more, the band had a short encore that consisted of the club ready/house music-influenced "Meet Me in a House of Love,” followed by “Lights and Music.” perhaps one of my favorite songs off of Colours.
Live, lead singer Dan Whitford is a strangely charismatic figure. A bit taller than average height and lanky, when he moves he strikes you as being all legs and arms and odd angles akimbo with a seemingly stereotypical lack of rhythm that makes him endearingly goofy. It’s not his dance moves that will win you over though; it’s the fact that songs do come from a sincere place and that he (and the rest of the band) are truly into the moment when the groove just carries you away much like the Le Poisson Rouge crowd last Tuesday. I can tell you that there’s a marked difference between world class bands, and those who are mediocre. A mediocre band can capture your attention at points but lack an understanding of what makes a great set; so as a concertgoer you can find your attention wandering during a slow moment. A world class band manages to capture your attention and doesn’t let go until the set is over; they have an understanding of how to pace a set so that you’re focused only on them and not Facebook. After catching Cut Copy, I have to say that they’re definitely a world class band.
For these photos and more from this show, check out the Flickr set here: