Audio, Video, Disco. Justice, LTM, Review.
Foreword: For posterity’s sake, this concert recap is kept in the present tense. For the reader who cannot transport to the nearest Justice concert, this is meant to suffice.
Audio, Video, Disco.
March 19th, 2012, The Day Justice Came to Boston
So, I just got back from the Justice concert at House of Blues. Literally just, with only a few minutes til midnight. I am a big fan of electronic music in general (heavy on the Daft Punk, lite on the dubstep, plz). Tonight, however, was the first time I experienced it in a live setting.
To get right to the point, the concert was amazing. The music. The mix. The bass. The treble. The lights. The drinks. The crowd. To get around the point, a little backstory…
I first heard Justice in the midst of my stint as a DJ for WRBB. For the most part, I stuck to funk and R&B, peppered with bursts of everything else under the sun. My shows over the years were all at very different times. 4am. 2pm. 7pm. Then, one day, for a show I don’t remember at a time I’ve since forgot, I walked into the studio. I started setting up my equipment. The studio lights were dimmed, but the studio was still hot. I cued up my playlist for that day’s show. But something was different.
In between live shows, music auto-played from the station’s internal library. Today, the bursting hi-hat intro. A progression of screaming, guttural synth chords. And when it finally dropped, a hard-hitting and grooving beat. A perfect mix of celebration and aggression.
I walked in, a few minutes before my show, and turned it up. Without even knowing what it was.
Once I found out, that was it. It was game over.
The song was “Let There Be Light.”
I know dubstep is all the rage right now, but it’s too loose for me. There’s too much half-time, not enough groove. The thing about Justice is that a lot of their tracks have a “four on the floor”-type beat. Think about a token disco song. The bass drum on every downbeat. 1 2 3 4. Or, alternatively, a really heavy-hitting snare on the 2 and 4. A lot of Top 40 songs use that same technique during choruses. A constant bass drum = a bigger hook. A bigger bang. A louder noise.
And that’s what Justice has.
So, even though I’ve always opened up every radio show with a Prince song, from that day forward, I really opened up each show with a Justice song. The pre-opener opener.
And that song was “Let There Be Light.” Every. Year. For Four. Years.
On to the show.
March 18th, 2012
I wasn’t originally going to go. A co-worker had mentioned the Justice show to me about a month ago. I said I’d buy a ticket but never did. Not on purpose, I just forgot. Then he reminded me yesterday. I thought the show had passed. It hadn’t. So he peer-pressured me a bit with the best kind of peer pressure there is.
The kind that pays off immensely, almost right away.
March 19th, 2012 – Showtime
We get there around 8:15 and the opener, Busy P, is midway through his set.
I’ll admit that I had my reservations about “seeing” an electronic group.
It’s easy to assume that the artist is playing connect the dots. Simply cueing up a pre-determined set of songs at the pre-determined times, paying attention to smooth transitions, and adding some hi-pass and phase filters on top. Boy, was I right.
And so wrong.
9pm - Justice walks onstage in near-darkness.
It’s just two French guys, signed to Ed Banger Records, the same label that once held Daft Punk. So some might say Justice is like Daft Punk, but with a harder beat and dirtier instrumentation. But for two guys and a few decks, they sure know how to set it off.
Justice started the night with “The Star-Spangled Banner” on one of their trademark synth patches. Sort of medieval sounding. Sort of metal sounding. Somewhere in between. After a few lines, they went into “Genesis,” the opener to 2007′s Cross.
Justice has taken the cross symbol and reappropriated it, making it their own. After a few songs, the center-stage cross lit up and remained illuminated for the rest of the show. Giant Marshall stacks glowed in time with the music. A massive wall of standard light bulbs rained patterns of light onto the two masterminds below.
Throughout the night, as the house lights came on in time with the music, dozens of crosses in the air. I’m talking arm-in-perpendicular-arm crosses.
The music was great. Everybody knew every sample. Everybody cheered and clapped along.
I danced my face off, as did many around me.
Past “Genesis,” I couldn’t tell you the setlist. Partially because I don’t even know their complete discography. Hell, I just purchased their most recent album this morning, in preparation for the concert.
But none of that ended up mattering one bit.
Every beat was driving. Every breakdown was epic. Every hand was in the air. Every face was smiling. Every voice was singing.
As the duo ended with an amazing encore, the crowd exploded with liberty…
..and Justice for all….
I can cross this off my bucket list. As a big fan of anything with a driving beat, I can now say that the experience of an electronic act far surpassed my expectations in a live setting. This is music. This is art. It doesnt’ matter if you’re pushing a button or plucking a string. Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are musicians. They are creators. They are Justice.
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