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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Cut Copy at The Vogue

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 3:30 PM

A still from Cut Copys advertisement for Denorex.
  • A still from Cut Copy's advertisement for dandruff shampoo.
Cut Copy, Washed Out, Midnight Magic
Sept. 19, The Vogue Theater
Five stars

Australian electro-pop band Cut Copy stopped in Indianapolis Monday night during the final leg of their marathon, eight-month world tour to promote their new album, Zonoscope, released back in February. How was the show? Let’s just say that if the Aussie foursome put as much energy and effort into every one of their 150-plus performances as they did last night at The Vogue, it’s a wonder they didn’t die of exhaustion sometime back in April.

Seeing an electro/synth-pop band play live, one almost expects to see a few skinny DJs with headphones on, swaying and bopping their heads — ever so slightly — as they stand aloof behind the mixing tables. Well, Cut Copy’s show on Monday was anything but that. In fact, it was more like an electro-pop revival, with lead singer Dan Whitford’s infectious energy and stage charisma turning The Vogue’s packed dance floor into an undulating sea of arms that occasionally lifted crowd-surfers aloft, to varying degrees of success. Things got so crazy that, at one point, after the song “Lights and Music,” Whitford actually had to pause and ask the crowd to “bring [the intensity] back about five percent” so no one would get hurt.

Not that there wasn't some down time: Almost 45 minutes had elapsed after the opening band, Washed Out, finished their set, and Cut Copy still hadn’t gone on. The natives were getting a little bit restless as the roadies continued to come out on stage at regular intervals, tuning the guitars, tapping the drums. And then — after at least one false start — the lights went down and Cut Copy came on stage in the dark, with the opening lines of Zonoscope’s most famous track, “Take Me Over,” already going. And then, in one burst, the lights came on, the people got up, and Cut Copy dropped the first beat of what would be an incredible 90-minute performance.

The band followed quickly with “Feel the Love,” the opening track from their 2008 Australian chart-topping album In Ghost Colours, and then “Hanging on to Every Hearbeat,” from Zonoscope. A few songs later, with “Lights and Music,” Whitford had worked the crowd up into a pretty good lather, before dropping “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution,” the latest single to be released from the current album. If there was a peak to the show it seemed to come when the band doubled back with “Pharoahs and Pyramids,” a track that starts mellow and drops into one of Cut Copy’s most mystifying and entrancing dance beats, sending the crowd into near hysterics.

After dancing behind the synth for nearly an hour, looking like a cross between an aerobics instructor and a crazed televangelist, Whitford’s grey button-down was darkened with sweat, as were the shirts of his fellow band members. It almost seemed as though they were taking a break when they slipped into an extended, 10- to 15-minute free-form jam, with Whitford and his guitarist engaging in all sorts of antics, like grinding the guitar against the amplifier, laying on the floor to play the pedals of the synth, throwing the guitar—strings-down—on the floor and jumping up on the drum kit to play the cymbals. These were the sort of antics that almost sounds trite, but which you nonetheless watch with a kind of open-mouthed fascination, wondering what in the hell they’re going to do next.

Opening for Cut Copy was indie chillwave band Washed Out, fronted and founded by Ernest Greene, who has been on the scene since 2009 and has developed a following with his mellow, moody, and emotional synth grooves. In fact, it seemed like more than a few audience members at last night’s show said they came primarily to see Washed Out. The band made good use of the drum kit and smooth, sweet, undulating harmonies to make a nice mix between straight-up rock and chillwave, but after two songs it seemed like the tracks started to run together, with one or two notable exceptions.

Brooklyn-based disco-funk band Midnight Magic warmed up the crowd prior to Washed Out, featuring a full ensemble, including two trumpet players and the bold, brassy vocals of lead singer Tiffany Roth.

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