Many modern bands have tried to revive the synthesizer and electronic pop sounds of the 1980s, and some of these bands have done so with great success. Cut Copy, a synthpop group from Melbourne, Australia, is one of these bands. Their ability of fusing the beloved sounds of ‘80s new wave music with alternative and dance music, while blending in smooth lyrics, creative vocal melodies and pulsating synthesizer parts has made them a highly successful group in many subsets of music listeners, such as the Pitchfork music scene.
Upon entering Heaven, the upper level and more spacious portion of the Masquerade, the first thing to catch one’s attention was the stage setup. The stage appeared to be a junkyard for wonderful expensive electronic equipment. Along with the copious gear, the stage also housed a large, mysterious white door right in the center of the electronic music utopia. The door’s purpose became evident later on in the show.
The show opened with Holy Ghost!—a Brooklyn-based electronic house group that melds heavily disco-influenced vocals and synthesizer parts with bouncy drum beats. Their short setlist did a brilliant job of getting the fans’ blood flowing and bodies lightly grooving. By the time their 30 minute set reached its end, the excitement was nearing an intolerable level.
After a prolonged break, the lights went out and the background music reached a steady pulse. Right as the pulse reached its end, the white door in the middle of the stage swung open and Cut Copy emerged from the darkness with looks of excitement, energy and disbelief in their modest eyes. The crowd became completely hysterical with excitement, and this excitement was converted into a wave of jumping and swaying as Cut Copy began the show with “Nobody Lost Nobody Found,” a track off of their second studio album, In Ghost Colours.
Cut Copy’s setlist contained a perfect blend of songs from the albums Zonoscope and In Ghost Colours, as well as a song from their first album, Bright Like Neon Love. The Zonoscope tracks included the more paced, chant-filled “Where I’m Going,” the vibrant pop track “Take Me Over” and the In Ghost Colours tracks included the beautifully thrashy “So Haunted.” These songs gave the band an opportunity to demonstrate some of their strongest elements.
One of these is their profound ability to execute builds in songs. They do so while also maintaining well-written, incredibly solid music. Their beats do not completely make the song. It’s the full package that does it for them. It’s the intricate instrumentation, the ‘80s synth and drum fills and the catchy vocals that complement the beats and grooves. The components are capable of standing alone, but the full combination is much more forceful.
The other element that these songs accentuated was the band’s ability to obtain complete control of the crowd. Whitford and Hoey, the band’s guitarist, delayed the climax of the builds and positioned themselves at the front of the stage. They treated their arms like a conductor’s baton, waving and weaving them in a precise manner to build the crowd up to an uncontrollable level of excitement just before unleashing relentless beats for the crowd to dance freely along with.
As the show began to reach its end, the white door transformed into an LED screen that was used to display interesting visuals to complement the light show during the epic “Sun God,” which ended the main set of the show. The crowd, eager for more, cheered and chanted the band back onto the stage to finish the show right with the powerful tracks “Need You Now” and “Out There On the Ice.”
Cut Copy could do no wrong with their flawless set at the Masquerade. They delivered a performance that drew the crowd into a state of euphoria, but the euphoria did not quickly subside once the show ended. The haunting performance left fans dancing and grooving to the beats that remained in their heads long after the band struck the final synthesizer note.