Cut Copy at Marquee Theatre 8/12/11

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Cut Copy Marquee Theatre Friday, August 12 It's about time Cut Copy played in Phoenix. Sure, it would have been great to see them on the In Ghost Colours tour, but last night was a good time for the band to make their first appearance. Fans had plenty of time to memorize the songs from the band's latest album, Zonoscope, released in February. It embraces Cut Copy's signature sound by combining elements of electronica, synthpop, and new wave for a contemporary, yet nostalgic feel. The album was released during the Australian summer, and Arizonans were lucky to hear the songs as they were intended on one of those rare, temperate summer nights.

All of the elements were just right. It was sweltering in the crowd, and the crowd was big, but not so big you couldn't move. It was a true Friday night crowd-- the fans came to have a good time and put most of the tepid audiences I have witnessed in the past to shame.

I don't know what it is about Australian bands, but I've yet to be disappointed by one. Granted, I've only seen a handful, but Cut Copy, Tame Impala, and The Living End have all consistently put on great, memorable shows --though they don't share much stylistically. I had high expectations after seeing Cut Copy at Coachella, and am happy to say I was once again blown away.

Last night's show lacked an intricate light show and a random door standing on the middle of the stage, but the band didn't need these elements to impress. From the moment the band took the stage, audience participation was absolutely off the charts. A good share of the crowd was constantly jumping, dancing, and clapping, as the music seemed to get louder with each song. Sing-alongs were incessant, with simple "whoas," "ohs," and "yeahs" garnering the most enthusiasm.

The songs sounded as good, if not better than their recorded versions thanks to a few pleasant surprises, such as the heavily distorted swirling guitars that lead into "So Haunted." Frontman Dan Whitford appeared to be having some technical issues, but the song sounded fine regardless. The only reason I noticed was because a tech was adjusting his guitar. The song built on the intro with a pronounced shoegaze guitar riff.

The bass and synth tones of "Pharaohs and Pyramids" were so loud that I could feel each beat pulsating throughout my body, making it nearly impossible not to dance.

The entire band matched the audience's nonstop enthusiasm with a very animated and energetic stage presence. Whitford showed off his dance moves as the rest of the band bobbed along. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Hoey served as Whitford's right hand man (technically left), switching between vocals, guitars, and percussion. Hoey had lots of tricks up his sleeve from the moment he jumped on top of Mitchell Scott's drum kit during "So Haunted" to rock out with a tambourine.

It turned into an all out dance party during "Saturdays," the only Bright Like Neon Love song of the evening. Whitford was pleased-- "You guys warmed up yet? Okay, prove it on the count of three...dance!" He said, met with a slew of cheers for "Hearts on Fire."

I was very surprised to hear "Sun God," the epic 15 minute closer to Zonoscope. During the lengthy instrumental break, Hoey fell to his knees to manipulate effect pedals and briefly lay on his back. He stood up and hoisted a guitar over his head, building suspense. He aggressively slapped the strings as he walked toward the audience and grinded the neck against the edge of the stage. He set the guitar down on top of an amp, grabbed a pair of drum sticks, and ran full speed at Scott's drum kit. He smacked a cymbal so hard that the drum stick flew out of his hand. As if in some sort of trance, he jumped on the drum set and wailed on a cymbal. Hoey and Scott played the song flawlessly.

Whitford announced, "Hey guys, this is the end of our set, let's make it count," for "Out There on the Ice." The audience did what they were told and somehow danced harder than they did all night.

The buzz about this show has been building around town for months. It wasn't just hype --this was one to remember.

Setlist: 1. Take Me Over 2. Feel The Love 3. Where I'm Going 4. So Haunted 5. Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat 6. Corner of the Sky 7. Lights and Music 8. Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution 9. Pharaohs & Pyramids 10. Saturdays 11. Hearts on Fire 12. Sun God Encore 13. Need You Now 14. Out There on the Ice

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Cut Copy at Marquee Theatre.

Personal Bias: I don't regret missing Black Keys to see Cut Copy at Coachella.

The Crowd: I think this conversation sums it up well- "Wow, look at all those beer bottles. It looks like it rained." "Yeah, there was a lot of drunk people here." "And a lot of hipsters." "Well, that's to be expected."

There were even a couple people playing with glowsticks.

Overheard in the Crowd: Before Cut Copy took the stage- "Cut paste! Control alt delete! Cup of coffee!"

Random Notebook Dump: I realize everyone wants a setlist, but if a girl catches it fair and square, it's hers. Don't rip it out of her hands, knock her glasses off, and run away like crazy.

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