I was going to start the weekend with some coverage of last week’s Pasadena Daydream festival, featuring The Cure, Pixies, Joy Formidable, Chelsea Wolfe, and a number of other acts. But for some reason, I’m drawing a blank on that show. Thus, I’m going to switch gears and feature a performance from Empire of the Sun instead. I’ve been meaning to post this since the end of June, when they performed the third of three sold out shows at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. Somehow, this one’s just fallen through the cracks. So let’s correct that oversight.
Empire of the Sun is originally an Australian act, formed a dozen or so years ago, back in ’07. The duo of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore have since relocated to Los Angeles, which they called out during this final night of the U.S. tour. The show also marked the 10 year anniversary of their debut album “Walking on a Dream,” which in true celebratory fashion, they performed in its entirety. Technically, the album’s 11 years old, as of this particular show. But when the tour started, 10 was it. Fair enough.
If you haven’t seen Empire of the Sun live, and you love their music, then you owe it to yourself to check them out. These guys really know how to put on a show. Actually, it’s more of an experience, full of theatricality, dancers, stylish costumes and headdresses, trippy cool projections, lots of steam, and of course, a great, lively, uplifting electronic dance sound. If you’ve seen any of their eccentric music videos, just think of that translated to a live forum.
The Fonda’s the smallest venue I’ve happened to see Empire perform. It’s like a 1200 people or so. Their full show is geared for a platform much, much larger. So to see all that squeezed onto the Fonda’s stage, minus only 2 of the 4 dancers, is something of an achievement ….not to mention a literal powderkeg for their performance. I mean, the energy was wild and intense, all good spirited, of course, yet also totally focused and thankfully loud.
As mentioned, the show was centered on “Walking on a Dream.” But in what seems to be a trend I’ve seen with increasing frequency, rather than play the album front to back, they instead mixed it up, changed the order, and interspersed other well-known songs from their subsequent two releases.
There’s plenty of moments to single out. My favorite was a virtual duo on “Without You,” between Steele and a VR-styled Asian vocalist on a giant LED screen. It was beautifully choreographed, and also slightly deceptive, where you almost felt it was real. That might sound a little strange for a description. But you can see for yourself. It’s one of the clips below.
There’s also a gravity defying bit of dance choreography for “The World,” which I’m still trying to figure out how they did. And of course, anytime a crowdpleaser took over, the entire audience was in full participation … “Walking on a Dream,” “Alive,” “High and Low.”
That’s all I got for words. It’s probably best to just check out some of the show below. There’s ten clips total, amounting to 12 songs total. Most of them are the full songs. The framing sometimes drifts, but that’s just me enjoying the show, rather than focusing on precision filmmmaking. The audio’s pretty decent. But most importantly, the spirit and the energy of their unique and lively performance is present. Enjoy Empire of the Sun’s Fonda performance from 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “Standing on the Shore” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “Old Flavours” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “We are the People” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “Way to Go” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “The World” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “High and Low” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform a potentially new untitled instrumental at the Fonda on 06.30.19. Or maybe it’s old … not sure.
Empire of the Sun perform “Swordfish Hotkiss Night” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “Without You” and “Walking on a Dream” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Empire of the Sun perform “Tiger By My Side” and “Alive” at the Fonda on 06.30.19.
Here’s the setlist for the show. It’s missing a cover version of Brandon Flowers’ “Between You and Me,” and an instrumental that no one seems to recognize. Also, both are unavailable on Spotify.
And now that I’ve cleared this post off the pallet, my thoughts will hopefully be clear enough to tackle some of the other big shows I’ve got lined-up … the aforementioned Pasadena Daydream, Massive Attack, Tycho, and a few others. Until then …