It was at least partly a byproduct of personal circumstance, but Cut Copy’s show this weekend felt less like a concert and more like a scene in a movie in which the protagonists take time out to casually attend one. I breezed in, slightly late, to hear In Ghost Colours‘ first (best?) clever/dumb pop moment: “All girls of note are crying/ Boo hoo! Boo hoo,” as if it was cued to my entry. The crowd was already in motion, with Cut Copy’s warm pastel light set-up making everything look like an impossibly kinetic sea of extras, perfectly bouncing in time. It took only seconds to note the obvious demographic reality that the Australian band has a massive gay following. It was the spooning body-builder show of the year. Why is that, you suppose? Just because all of their tracks are triggered to a Pavlovian dance response? I thought dance music, especially of the 80s-informed synth variety, had reached a saturated point of acceptance this decade beyond an “only the gays love to dance” stereotype, but perhaps my polling samples have been a bit limited. Terminal 5 is a big place, after all, and it was very sold out. Nearly everyone in the enormous room was bouncing emphatically, so credit to Cut Copy for prompting so much dedicated energy, at a relatively early point in a New York Saturday night’s life cycle.
For me though, it was pretty impossible to connect emotionally to the music beyond a bit of bopping around. I pretty much love the slick pop album they’ve toured the world on, but Cut Copy almost seemed extraneous to it. You could have kept their light setup and blared the tracks out over a loudspeaker in a dance club and the feel in the hall would have been quite similar. Only on the shoegazier-than-most “So Haunted,” did a bit of rumble and scrape enter the mix. Only then did it really feel spontaneous and alive, rather than immaculately preserved and presented. The corners of their songs are so rounded, and the melodies so streamlined, that room for emphatic changes in tone, of songs gaining steam or stripping down to focus on nuanced melody, is non-existent. Perhaps most crucially, the rhythm section wasn’t forceful enough to provide that, “wow, my body is being pulverized in small degrees” physical thrill that you’d never leave, say, an LCD Soundsystem show missing. I came into a room where Cut Copy was playing (they happening to be there, actually playing), I enjoyed myself for a scene, and then moved forward briskly to the night’s more pertinent plot points.