It is a telling statement of our modern times that one might can ask if a band like Cut Copy is a “real” band. Real in the sense that the question of whether they consist of humans playing physical instruments can be a valid at all. I should preface by stating that I wasn’t as familiar with Cut Copy prior to seeing them. Nor did I do my homework before the show for the quick and easy facts. So much so, that it wasn’t until some post-show Googling that I learned of the group’s Australian origin. My game time assumption was Britain. Usually that knee jerk guess would stand as a safe bet, in statistical terms, for any Anglo group with non-North American accents. Even so, my go-to geographical deduction left me wondering. Why was I so quick to conclude them to be British?
Cut Copy’s sound evenly distributes refined new wave homages with a multi-genre referencing texture of electropop rhythms. Dan Whitford’s dramatically articulated vocals are employed for a further hit of nostalgic 80s feel. In view of the fact that those same rhythms and vocals sound like they could be straight ripped from obscure disco records, it would have surprised me none had Cut Copy looked more like an efficient electronica outfit and not the full band they actually are. Color my ignorance of Cut Copy to nothing beyond inoffensive lack of awareness. Turns out they have real drums, guitar(s!), and bass to go with the essential keys and assorted plug-ins. It also turns out they are massively popular as evidenced by the extremely packed and very sold out Bluebird theater.
Compared to last weekend’s Manhattan’s show that our faster on the draw NYC team reviewed on Monday, I did not witness a dominating representation from any specific demographic here in Denver. That remains true only if I do not count the well versed fans enthusiastically singing along during most of the show. Before I digress deeply into a mulling of hair splitting census questions, let me instead indulge on why I think Cut Copy is a successful band for the masses.
Progressive house elements from 1990s techno have consistently proven to be adept tools in the arsenal of working up crowds. The passing of years shouldn’t make this truth anymore obsolete than the passing decades negatively effect loud, crunchy guitars from rousing garage rock aficionados. That is to say, reliability, which by definition is something that has demonstrated its abilities over and over in a consistent way. The prism of musical reference has enough options in 2009 that depending on generational upbringing, classic is as much a relative term as another umm, classic word: Cool. Where a classic band was once defined by the standard guitar/bass/drums, now that template includes everything from turntables, elaborate percussion rigs, live sampling, found instruments, arrays of keyboards and my prior referenced model of knob twirlers and button pushers.
Forceful, up for it performances defined the night for Cut Copy. Their chops are solid and they don’t lallygag with the afforded space between songs. Cut Copy is a breed of band that hangs its hat on the historically schizophrenic conceptions that a band is to provide multiple stimulation points for enhancing the live experience. I don’t hold strong feelings for this type of thing either way, but I do know when complementing touches work when I see them. No song was most indicative of this tenor than on “So Haunted” – which arguably was the peak note of the evening.
It started innocently with an extended intro that bathed the audience in waves of escalating, panicky throbs. Multi-sensory supplement came from flashing lights emanating from a grid of horizontally placed, fluorescent tubes framing the rear of the stage. Flashing in time to the music, the optical mimicry intensified the club vibe to great response. It was a mix begging for a nightclub setting and the amped crowd roared in approval. They danced hard enough to almost will it so, even if it was just the Bluebird.
During one of the more genuinely memorable encore calls in some time, a somewhat coordinated chant of “Cut Copy! Cut Copy!” evolved, to my ear anyway, to sound more like “Big Papi! Big Papi!”. This immediately made me happy. Not because I care for the Red Sox, but because baseball proper is just around the corner. More pics after the jump.