If ever there was a band to mascot the music scene in Miami, it may as well be M83. Though they are themselves French natives, M83’s music seems to encapsulate what Miami is about, and who its people are- as varying and scattered as they can be. With their almost ambiguous sound that is devoid from a satisfying musical category, they can be appreciated by music lovers across the board. From indie loving hipsters and fist pumping bros (you know who you are) to 80s nostalgists and music nerds- M83 puts on a show for each and every one of them, and their concert at the Fillmore was surely no exception.
Before they took to the stage though, opening band Sun Airway warmed it up for them with their fuzzy electro pop sound, all glazed over by lead singer Jon Barthmus’ smooth vocals. Though the band played a set definitely likened towards listeners of bands like Washed Out, Neon Indian and M83, the audience paid little attention to the full band on stage before them. The music was sway-able and airy, but didn’t seem to translate well from the audience’s point of view. Their sound was top notch, but with a combination of sleepy lighting and lack of crazy on stage dynamics, friends continued conversing, and couples ensued in competitive PDA battles- backs turned from the stage. I began to dread this show would be polluted with overheard gossip rather than fun music and good times. Thank god my fears remained their own apprehensions, because the reality of what was coming was way more kick ass.
Finally at around 10:30pm, M83 were set to play, but instead of the band members stepping on stage, a cloaked mask wearing figure walked ominously onto the stage. With outstretched arms, green laser beams flashed from of their fingertips and out towards the crowd. The audience immediately erupted in enormous applaud, drifting far from their previous daze. Then, M83 ran eagerly on stage, and the crowd welcomed them with open arms and deafening screeches of joy.
They sped right into the enrapturing sounds of “Intro” and then something beautiful happened. As the band grabbed hold of their microphones, the audience grabbed hold of each other, and together we yelled the opening line, “CARRY ON, CARRY ON. CARRY ON, AND AFTER US THE FLOOD.” The venue exploded in sound, the music taking on a whole new level and shape that cannot be experienced through the album recordings. The fans, bros and hipsters alike, danced and thrashed around to the sounds as if they had completely taken them over, and it really did now that I think of it.
As they danced into the crowd favorite “Reunion”, there was pretty much no way to keep still. The music grew into an entirely fresh and explosive being. It had a new life within the walls of the Fillmore, and the sound bounced around almost as much as we did. There wasn’t a crevice in the venue that wasn’t crowded with sound, a crisper, clearer and weightier sound than what you could stream on your Spotify playlist. The magnitude of the show was far greater than any other electro pop or chill wave band I’ve experienced live. M83 are like the punk rockers of spacey dance music, yet with songs like “Wait” , they completely transform into some sort of beautifully gloomy yet operatic shoegaze band…if that makes sense. On that track in particular, Morgan Kibby’s vocals shined through, with not one crack or shake to be heard. In fact, each member brought a needed aspect to the show, with guitarist/bassist/ Jordan Lawlor flinging himself about the stage spastically, rarely standing standing still for a second, drummer Loic Maurin delivering impeccably concise and brisk beats, and Anthony Gonzalez acting as the ringleader to the whole affair.
As they closed the show with the anthem-like track, “Couleurs”, I looked around and got this weirdly proud feeling within me. M83 had brought out the best in Miami, because like us, they are a melting pot of opposites- yet somehow they make it work. Well, they do far more than just “make it work” and that was proved to us at the Fillmore on a rainy Wednesday night. It was one of those shows where you felt bad for those who didn’t attend. There or not, it was a show that WILL be talked about and will remain a colorful snapshot of Miami, unhinged and energized- a favored image of our own “midnight city”.
“Year One, One UFO”
“We Own The Sky”
“Guitar and a Heart”