Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Baltimore dream-poppers Beach House, in evoking nightfall, placed me on the brink of sleep at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. I experienced the opposite phenomenon last Thursday at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey, as M83′s explosive synth-pop recalled a different kind of night, and the euphoria that comes with watching a comet streak across the sky.
M83′s live show is a sum of its parts effort. Frontman Anthony Gonzalez is not a classic showman but 20-year-bassist Jordan Lawlor and singer/keyboardist Morgan Kibby breathe fire into the performance. The band’s lights show – beams flashing, shooting, and leaping toward the crowd – is a natural fit with the frequent explosions of sound that dot their discography. And then, of course, there are M83′s pulse-pounding anthems.
I arrived late, right as the band started the swirling, mesmerizing “Steve McQueen”. The crowd pumped its fists along with the song in a jubilant fashion.
A few minutes later, M83 played “Graveyard Girl”, a prime example of their newer dark as light sound. During an extended breakdown, Kibby yelled “NEW JERSEY!!!”, summoning the crowd to sweat with the band. I shouted too, even though this was my first time in the Garden State.
M83 closed its set with its monster hit “Midnight City”, a perfect slice of pop whether you’re from the south of France or south Louisiana or east Jersey. The near-capacity crowd danced in a carefree fashion.
The show’s highlight though came during encore closer “Couleurs”, a nine-minute dance jam that reminded me of M83 covering a wordless song by NYC dance punks The Rapture. Even Lawlor’s curls reminded of the latter band’s frontman Luke Jenner, as he skated back and forth, as if on a treadmill, while banging on drum pads.
Gonzalez made a heart shape with his hands as he left the stage. Sadly, this night had to end.