The twinkling keys from Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened Daft Punk's show last night before the Parisian pair--Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter--lurched into "Robot Rock." Their elaborate stage consisted of a colossal honeycomb structure outfitted with lights that could scroll, swirl, sweep, and strobe out impressive panoply of colors. The duo, clad in all-black spacesuits and reflective helmets, stood demurely behind their gadgets in the center of a trisected, pyramidal throne. These minutiae were part of Daft Punk's attempt to elevate their set off the scale of the paranormal, an effort challenged by the fact the show took place at Keyspan Park, a Minor League baseball stadium situated adjacent to Brooklyn's storied Coney Island.
Iconography of America's favorite pastime, and its associated curios like Carvel ice cream and Nathan's hot dogs, commingled uneasily alongside the glow sticks distributed across the sold-out crowd of outer-worldly robot enthusiasts. But paradoxes are part of Daft Punk's shtick: Are they humans pretending to be robots? Are they convinced they are actually human-resembling robots? Or, do they just simply enjoy sounding like robots? Daft Punk were quick to remind us, though, they are indeed human, brazenly flashing the word on the LED scrim behind them. We couldn't help but wonder if the man dressed in a latex-like, lime-green rejection from the Mork & Mindy set was convinced this was his fate, too.
Throughout the continuous, thumping rave-up, Daft Punk's lean synths were as versatile as their lights, careening effortlessly from lurching to rubbery to squiggly to cat-like. "Technologic" and "Television Rules the Nation," off their most recent album, 2005's Human After All, and "Da Funk" and "Around the World" from 1997's Homework, elicited a few fist pumps from one of the would-be humanoids behind the knobs, both of whom stood relatively motionless over the course of the set. "One More Time," from 2001's Discovery, was played, and fittingly, played again for the encore, this time as an extended electro-fueled jam made utterly phantasmagorical by flashing lights and images of humans and their skeletomuscular systems, as well as the pair's suits, newly illuminated by outlining red-beam piping.
What Daft Punk boasted in flashiness, openers the Rapture matched in enthusiasm. The New York dance-punks bobbed and thrusted to "House of Jealous Lovers" and "Pieces of the People We Love," and on "Whoo! Alright Yeah," which front man Luke Jenner introduced with all the gusto such a title warrants, the singer theatrically mimed the chorus' moves: "People don't dance no more / They just stand there like this / They cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan and diss." Their set was spiky and on point --if the quartet had any qualms about opening for electro-rock behemoths Daft Punk, they were drowned out by cowbell and saxophone. Jenner's croon was just as Banshee-like as it is on album, but really, the band seemed reserved in comparison to the spectacle that was about to take place. But maybe that was the point. On "Get Myself Into It," Jenner wailed, "It's a chance of a lifetime," a chance that is never clearly defined in the song and that, last night, could have easily been about opening for one of their sonic influences.
Photos by Gabriel Kuo