In the beginning, M83 was comprised of Frenchmen Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau, but since 2005's Before the Dawn Heals Us, Gonzalez has gone it alone with amazing results. Naming the group after a spiral galaxie, Gonzalez has become a forerunner in ambient and shoegaze genres crafting beautiful and sometimes heart wrenching lengthy musical numbers. This year's flawless Saturdays=Youth (Gonzalez' fifth record) is inspired by his surprisingly angst free teenage years. The poppier and more vocal driven record waxes nostalgia on his youth when he discovered music, goth girls and drugs. After a three year hiatus from Chicago, Gonzalez comes back complete with a live band, most notably Morgan Kibby's impressive backup vocals and keyboard skills.
Download: M83 - "Kim and Jessie"
During the show, Gonzalez jumps from playing the guitar to singing vocals to messing with a switch box to playing keys. The band opens with incessant instrumental keyboards swirling and building in cinematic scope. The audience snaps out of their trace for Saturday's pop-based "Graveyard Girl" featuring prerecorded vocals. "Moonchild" from Before the Dawn contains prerecorded vocals about the universe glowing. M83's music produces so many feelings and moods from deep emotion, woozy romanticism and life affirmation, but it's definitely more palpable and absorbing live. "Moonchild" especially encompasses all those emotions at once. "We Own the Sky" returns to electronic territory highlighting Gonzalez's and Kibby's dual vocals and drums bleeding through. Only one or two audience members dance while everyone else just stands around occasionally nodding. M83's music isn't exactly club-going music, but more people should've gotten into it. Next, they play "Kim and Jessie" followed by "Highway of Endless Dreams" that begins with methodical tinkling guitar chords. One of the downsides in seeing an ambient performance is sometimes crowds chatter and bottle clanks distracting from the mood. Despite this, the band pushes forward and the audience showers them with applause aferwards. "Don't Save Us From the Flames" and "Skin of the Night" stand out on its noise prowess, female driven vocals and '80s sounding synths. The group rocks on its last song, "A Guitar and a Heart" where Gonzalez takes over the keys and lets loose. For the encore, the band ends on "Coleurs" from Youth. Gonzalez remarks this audience has been better than L.A. "Coleurs" takes its time to start, but when it does, an amalgam of cowbell and keys erupts into a dance party ending the show on a high note.