When M83 took the stage at KeyArena today at Bumbershoot it was reminiscent of the Emperor’s entrance in the movie Return of the Jedi – lots of smoke, colored lights, and darkness. There were also, if I’m not mistaken, laser fingers.

In the introductions to some of their songs they are almost a chiptune band, then the acoustic drums and those sustained vocal whole note harmonies make each of their songs feel like tributes the songs that we might have imagined after afternoons playing with Speak & Spells and reading children’s books.

This music is Kraftwerk, this music is Space Invaders and John Hughes movies. This is the kind of music you hear on a car’s radio the first time you kiss, at the beginning of a short lived, but passionate relationship.

One critical note from a former percussionist: if you’re playing a sampler trigger pad with a drumstick and the sample is a cowbell sound, just play a cowbell!

I have no idea what any of the lyrics are for this music. They could be evil. (DON’T BE EVIL M83!) All of the vocals are somewhat filtered, and Shoegaze-y as they are, that’s kind of the goal. (Full disclosure: I’ve never been good at picking out lyrics.) That doesn’t matter though. That sound, the vocals with M83 are more like another layer of melody in these dense digital/analog anthems. It all kind of feels like victory.

About halfway through the performance people started to bum-rush the security gaurds to make it to the floor level of the arena. The security gaurds could not contend with the mass of bodies, and the weight of these eager teenagers. It was like the last few seconds of a tower defense game, with enemies spilling past broken gates and claiming victory. First it was a few people, then monkey see, monkey do. Hopefully nobody was hurt, or smooshed, or strong-armed. It was on a staircase; could have gotten ugly. M83 spoke to the rebellion, offering encouragement, if for no other reason than to get people’s attention back on stage. Never a dull moment at Bumbershoot.

Culture Bumbershoot Review Day 3: the Wildness of M83