This article was originally published for Radio UTD on June 23rd, 2014.
The Whit Stillman film “The Last Days of Disco” comes to a close with a message presumably intended for a time capsule: “Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever,” Josh, a true believer, says in the harsh daytime sun of the fictionalized early ’80s. “It’s got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes.” His wish, committed to celluloid in 1998, anticipated the music of the decade or so to come, from the underground-aimed dance-punk of the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem to the massive rise of DJs from Daft Punk to Skrillex.
Yet no modern band understands the pure pleasure of dance music better than Australian quartet Cut Copy. “Band” is an important term: DJs and producers have built a multi-million dollar industry in Las Vegas clubs and mega-fests, but how many acts can summon that kind of dancefloor enthusiasm with guitars in their hands? The list is short.
Classixx and Delta Heavy provided opening support and perhaps stole the show. LA-based duo Classixx performed songs primarily from their beloved album Hanging Gardens. The nudisco duo’s use of keyboards, drum machines, and pads gave tracks like “Holding On” new life. Flat synths suddenly sprung to life with extra flourish, evolving simple notes into grand flurries of saccharine beats. A few remixes were thrown in, including Yacht’s “Psychic City.” Nile Delta DJed during intermission, crafting a quick set filled with tech house jolted by nudisco vocals.
Cut Copy, took to the blue-lit stage launching straight into “We are Explorers” and “Take Me Over”, from Free Your Mind, and the crowd immediately embraced the boys, welcoming them home. It wasn’t until a few songs in while playing “So Haunted”, that the band settled in on stage and began interacting with the crowd, led by frontman Dan Whitford’s encouragement to the crowd to sing and clap along, as well as treat us to his free flowing but shy dance moves. This was in addition to Tim Hoey’s dominance of the right side of the stage, prancing around with his guitar. It was during this number, the show became one big homecoming party.
Throughout the set, the boys seamlessly weaved their new material evenly in a midst of their older songs. As “Hearts On Fire” began to play, the crowd roared with excitement, throwing their arms into the air and the lyrics echoing throughout the room, matching the sound level of the band. Bright and sometimes epileptic backgrounds and lighting gave the performance a visual kick, with a particular highlight being that of the impressive black and white vortex display during “Let Me Show You Love”. They finished the main set with “Meet Me In The House Of Love”.
Cut Copy kept the crowd waiting for a very short period of time before strutting back onto stage (in the middle of a USA chant) to treat the crowd to two encore songs, the first being their loud, dance anthem “Lights and Music” accompanied by brilliant bright alternating lighting and the room erupted once more. The final song of the evening “Need You Now” had the crowd singing along wholeheartedly, farewelling the boys with every ounce of energy they had left.
As a live act, Cut Copy bring their dance numbers to life with live drums and guitars accompanying their electronic tracks, and although this limits their ability to diverge from the original tracks dramatically, it’s the combination of Dan’s ability to manage the crowd and Tim’s on-stage prancing that results in a great entertaining and energetic performance.