Last night was awesome. It started off kinda stressful, though. I had to rush out of work and my car stalled twice in a row while driving through downtown Salem. The first thing that went through my head was "I wonder how much trouble you get in for leaving your car in the middle of the road." Because obviously I was going to get a cab to Boston if my car wasn't going to work, but after starting it up a third time, it was smooth sailing from then on out.
I got to The Middle East just as Berg Sans Nipple was packing up their stuff and holy shit was it hot in there. I was still wearing my work clothes (jeans, t-shirt, button down, and winter shoes) so I immediately started sweating. Gross, I know. But as I'm walking towards to stage, I notice my favorite spot on the left rise-up was open. I walk up and there's only a couple standing in front of me (both of whom were short), so I ended up about 10 feet from the stage with a clear view of everyone. Except for the ridiculous 85+ degree temperature, I couldn't be happier.
The stage set up was kinda weird. The drummer had this huge barrier made of 5 (approx) 6x3 plexi-glass panels. I don't know if it was so he could block out the other sounds or if it was meant to block out his drums. Or maybe it was just for looks, trying to match Anthony's glowing blue box of knobs also made of plexi-glass. I'm going with blocking out the drums because they were definitely too loud. They kind of dominated everything else.
So that brings me to my initial (but not long lasting) gripe about the show. The music was quite different live than recorded. It was much more raw and less processed. The vocals had almost no effects and the guitars sounded very guitary. The drums were really loud and the electronics and synths weren't always noticeable. At first, I was really surprised because I couldn't even recognize which song was being played until the chorus came in. I'm not sure if this is how M83 plays live or if it's a Middle East thing, because I remember similar problems when I saw Asobi Seksu play there.
But, this was not a bad thing. A little disconcerting at first, yes, but easily overlooked and it made the show that much better. I don't know about you, but this is why I go to shows. I'm not always looking for the band to re-create exactly the sound of the record. I like the little subtleties, improvisations, and variations that come along with watching a band perform. It's part of the charm.
That being said, M83 kicked so much ass. I wasn't sure how it would go live, if it would just be Anthony Gonzalez with a guitar, some synths and a laptop, or if he would have more people helping him. But when I saw the drum kit, I knew it would at least be him and a live drummer. It ended up being 4 people total, with another guitarist and a girl doing synths/vocals/maybe some electronics.
It's all kind of a blur but I remember them playing a lot of stuff from Saturdays = Youth like "Kim & Jessie," "Skin Of The Night," "Graveyard Girl," "We Own The Sky," and "Highway Of Endless Dreams." They also definitely played "Don't Save Us From The Flames," "Run Into Flowers," and a different version of "Moonchild." I know they played more but I can't quite remember. The encore might have been "A Guitar And A Heart." Not sure.
The crowd was crazy for M83. Everyone loved them and they loved us back. I love it when a band is really appreciative of an appreciative audience. It lets you know they care and aren't too pretentious. I'm pretty sure everyone in the club that night had an amazing time. And after all is said and done, I now have a little crush on Anthony.