Attending a concert can often be a game of luck. You go hoping that the artist plays all your favorite songs but there's a good chance some of your preferred (older) tunes might be cut in favor of newer material from whatever latest album the artist is touring behind (an album you may not rank among their best). Sometimes the crowd's energy and set length pad a performance enough that some of your favorite songs sneak their way for a few minutes to shine. Cut Copy’s show at the Ritz epitomized both winning and losing the game of luck.Straight off appearances at festivals such as Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball, the Australian quintet descended upon Ybor City on Tues., June 17 for a night to celebrate their recent album Free Your Mind
. While the setlist touched on some seminal hits from previous LPs, the show’s reliance on material from their admittedly weaker album prevented the band from truly shining. [Text by Cody, photos by DCG]
Classixx and Nile Delta provided opening support and perhaps stole the show. LA-based duo Classixx, performing in front of an LED screen displaying summery and psychedelic imagery, delivered songs primarily from their beloved album Hanging Gardens
. The nu-disco duo’s use of keyboards, drum machines, and launchpads gave tracks like “Holding On” new life. Flat synths suddenly sprung to life with extra flourish, evolving simple notes into grand flurries of saccharine beats. Nile Delta DJ'ed during intermission, crafting a quick set filled with tech house jolted by nu-disco vocals.
Cut Copy’s entrance lacked any build of suspense. They emerged the moment Nile Delta’s set ended and dove straight into an impeccable performance of “We Are Explorers.” Frontman Dan Whitford’s voice, a nostalgic amalgamation of vocals heard in one-hit wonders from the '80s, hit all the notes with precise abandon. Once the opening notes of “Take Me Over” emanated from the Ritz’s exemplary sound system, all crowd inhibition disappeared.
Up ‘til the third song, the disco-meets-tribal jam “Free Your Mind," the band’s plain-white backdrop stared blankly at the audience. This blank design purposely morphed once “Free Your Mind” began, lavishing the canvas with a deep blue finish and proudly displaying the words "Free your mind."
The meat of the setlist balanced tracks off the heralded In Ghost Colours
with entries from Free Your Mind
, both a blessing and a curse. Songs like “Let Me Show You Love” found drummer Ben Browning beating cymbals with his hands, a fitting embellishment when set against the trippy, spiraling visuals. While Whitford spread his arms wide in sincere appreciation during “Meet Me In The House Of Love," the audience clearly craved upbeat hits like “Hearts On Fire” (the track that earned the loudest cheers from the crowd).
Luckily, the encore ended the show on a high note. The downtempo refrain of "Feel the Love" inspired the crowd to sing along and conjure up enough energy for the appropriate finale of “Need You Now.” As the band built toward the crescendo, arms and legs waved and scuffled respectively.
Cut Copy’s greatest strength lies in its dedication to deftly recreating their most-cherished songs in a live setting. While the setlist fairly represented their albums (excluding their debut Bright Like A Neon Love
), the offerings from Free Your Mind
failed to translate into their characteristically energetic live show and bogged down the more noteworthy selections. Still, Cut Copy continues to create some of the best synth-pop around, and shouldn't be missed on their return...