M83 at Ogden Theatre, with I Break Horses, 4/30/12
Tom Murphy I Break Horses at Ogden
Opening act I Break Horses was a four-piece configuration. The way the band brought its sounds together, it felt like getting to see something out of time, like a secret shoegaze band of the early '90s coming out of suspended animation and finding modern technology and two decades of music from which to draw some inspiration -- but all while not being bogged down by all the ruptures in the development of music and the political events that informed some of it.
There was something raw and fresh about this music, and frontwoman Maria Lindén had the practiced yet unvarnished presence of someone who isn't yet used to being in front of people, but the deep emotions inside her draw her to their expression. Lindén has said that she was making the live version of the music something different from the record, and she wasn't kidding. There was something robust about the sound even as its sparkles and ghostly, atmospheric feel, worthy of Lush and the Cocteau Twins, caressed the psyche.
It was like a pop incarnation of Cranes but less dark and abstract and not at all industrial. "Empty Bottles," especially, had a plaintive or even melancholic sound that had the intense delicacy of feeling you hear in Joy Division's "Atmosphere" -- much of that solemn grandeur, as well. Lindén is clearly no stranger to her personal demons, but with this music, she has been able to make something both gorgeously entrancing and cathartic.
Lindén crossed her arms across her chest and graciously thanked the audience throughout and seemed genuinely moved by the fact that the crowd was into the band. If anyone there didn't leave a bit of a fan, it would be surprising, because the performance had a warmth along the emotional and sonic force of the music. The set ended with the moody yet paradoxically uplifting "I Kill Your Love, Baby!" Only Lindén and her forest-sprite-like presence could make that kind of song seem like a gesture of affection to the people who showed up early.
Personal Bias: Ever since picking up Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts shortly after it came out, I've been wanting to see M83. Also, Hearts by I Break Horses was one of my favorite albums of 2011.
Random Detail: M83 had this great shirt where the name of the band was spelled out in a line connecting stars -- like a constellation chart.
By the Way: The drummers of both bands, Loïc Maurin of M83 and Fredrik Balck of I Break Horses, were phenomenal and really added to the impact of the music with their dynamic and emotive performances.
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