Originally published on April 18, 2011
Cut Copy and Holy Ghost!
April 16th at the Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
Cut Copy packed the Regency this weekend for two back to back sold-out shows of deep synth-pop grooves. This hot ticket show lived up to the expectations of lucky San Franciscans that grabbed their tickets early to see the much-hyped Australian band, and the whole venue from the floor to the far balcony was a dance party filled with elated concertgoers.
Holy Ghost! opened up the night with a solid performance that complemented the music of Cut Copy very well. As a duo who have released a variety of remixes in addition to their own original electropop compositions, I was excited to see what Holy Ghost! could do live. For their show they had extra musicians on stage to provide additional instrumentation and a fuller sound to their beats, and the combination turned out great. Holy Ghost! implemented quite a bit of technology into their set. In addition to their multiple keyboards, they also made use of an iPad for additional effects. The electronic aspect combined well with other live instruments, perhaps most importantly the cowbell that lead singer Alex Frankel played in almost every song with much intensity and spot on precision.
After their set finished up, my friends and I secured a good spot near the front of the crowd and chatted with a few nearby people that all shared our same feelings of eager anticipation to see Cut Copy. The lights went down and the band entered through a giant door that had been placed in the middle of the stage. The crowd wildly cheered and a strong cloud of energy rose up in the room as the band jumped into playing “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found.” Singer Dan Whitford played out the melody on a xylophone, which added a cool new element to the already upbeat track. They continued their set that was made up of half old songs and half new songs off of the recently released album Zonoscope. While they were playing their new single, “Take Me Over”, the giant door rotated to reveal a video display that added an exciting visual element to the rest of the show. As the opening notes to the band’s signature song “Lights and Music” flew out over the crowd, everyone went crazy with excitement.
In general, Cut Copy’s older tracks got more love from the audience, but for this song, the energy was through the roof. I was hoping they would play “Saturdays”, my favorite single off their 2004 album Bright Like Neon Love, and not only did they play it, but they also pushed it into a giant jam and drum breakdown that lasted for many minutes and was a great treat to hear. “Hearts on Fire” had a similar extended performance that the audience loved. The encore featured their newest single “Need You Now”, and the band left the stage and a happy audience on a very high point. They also performed a special DJ set at an after party in the Sutter Room. I was not able to attend, but I am sure the positive energy carried over to that event as well.
When listening to Cut Copy, it is very apparent that they draw influence from new wave bands of the ‘80s, such as New Order and Duran Duran. Their affinity for synthesizers cannot be hidden, and the tracks are crammed with catchy hooks. However, I do think that they have taken their music step further and made it a hybrid with electronic dance music. The songs build at key moments and you can feel the energy welling up inside your chest as the music reaches a peak and everything is kicked up a notch. Cut Copy’s songs often start as a simple concept such as a single guitar part or synth melody, and you are caught of guard when you end up in the middle of a track and realize that so many additional elements have been added to the fray, coming together to craft a beautiful sound. This songwriting style definitely evoked an emotional and physical response from the crowd at the Regency, as everyone jumped up together at the climax of songs, and danced even harder with every passing track. The kinetic vibes even reached balcony above, which is usually reserved for mellower concertgoers to relax and see a band. I talked with many people on the way out of the venue, and everyone seemed uplifted and euphoric from their time at this show. It was one of the happiest and outwardly excited crowds I have experienced in a long time, and I definitely recommend buying tickets hastily if Cut Copy plays in your city. It is an experience not to be missed.