Alive in Australia: Inside Daft Punk's epic '07 tour

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“We like the idea that the things we do seem to come out of nowhere. The show, like everything we have done and still do, is just one more experiment.” Thomas Bangalter, 2007.

If there’s a party line on Daft Punk’s 2007 Australian tour from the people who made it happen, this is it: “There’s really not much to say.” Over five years after our encounter with the pyramid, the lingering cone of silence behind the scenes would make Tyler Durden proud. The evasiveness certainly fits the Daft Punk mythology. Or is it just as possible that, beyond those exhilarating 100-odd minutes on-stage, there genuinely isn’t much to say? They came, they conquered, they returned inconspicuously to the hotel?

Like all things Daft Punk, the Nevereverland news came like a bolt from the blue. The announcement on inthemix amassed over 50,000 views on the first day. It would be four cities over eight days in December 2007: Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl and The Esplanade in Perth on the first weekend, a Thursday night show at Brisbane’s Riverstage, then the finale at Sydney Showgrounds three days before Christmas.

The involvement of Modular ensured a support cast of the label’s stars: Cut Copy, The Presets (both acts just months out from the release of In Ghost Colours and Apocalypso, their respective watershed albums), Van She and Muscles. Daft Punk’s then-manager Pedro Winter, aka Busy P, clinched an Ed Banger leading star SebastiAn alongside Record Makers recruit Kavinsky, for the slot before the headliners. Here were two DJs with just the right measure of insouciant cool to keep from buckling under the pressure. They were in practise, too, having done the job across Europe.

The Australian tour came at a defining moment for Ed Banger. 2007 had been a game-changing chapter for the label, propelled in no small part by an ascendant French duo Justice. EPs from Mr Oizo and SebastiAn, two incendiary personalities with music to match, also set the tone. (That year, Fuzzy’s Parklife tour had saluted the sound of the moment with Justice headlining alongside Digitalism and MSTRKRFT, three acts who built on the Daft Punk blueprint.) Thankless as the 45-minute warm-up slot might be, it was fitting that it fell to Ed Banger.

The Nevereverland tour moved a lot of tickets. Sydney Showground sold out, an unprecedented result for a dance headliner. In Melbourne, a second night was added at the Music Bowl. The five-show run came at the end of the Alive tour that began back in April 2006 in a sweltering Sahara tent at Coachella. Australia would be the pyramid’s last stand. “To give some more power to those shows, it’s gonna be the last ones for Daft Punk; at least with the pyramid and all those lights,” Busy P confirmed to triple j. Once 2008 rolled around, it was back into the shadows for Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. There was a pyramid cameo at the Grammys during Kanye West’s performance of Stronger, the pair’s suits lit up with electroluminescent piping as they worked on JazzMutant Lemurs. But as far as the stadium spectacle went, it was game over.

That night at Coachella, Saturday 29 April 2006, could’ve been a one-off, an experience limited to a few thousand witnesses in the desert. In the charged minutes before show-time, the crowd was staring at a black curtain drawn across the Sahara stage, hearing some benign electronica through the speakers. Then, in the strobing light, two robots appeared inside a 20-foot-tall, three-ton pyramid, flanked on either side by a lattice of bulbs. As that Robot Rock bassline barrelled in, the sea of raised camera phones became airborne. 75 minutes later, after the Superheroes/Human After All/Rock’n Roll blitzkrieg, dazed and high believers staggered away to text their friends what they missed. “We got a sense that it went well,” Bangalter dead-panned to Mixmag in 2006. The next day at Coachella – headlined by Tool and Massive Attack, two other bands with ‘90s legacies to trade on – Daft Punk walked around the festival, untroubled by anyone.

Two months later, the duo was headlining the Eurockéennes festival in Belfort, France, and the tour momentum built from there: Barcelona, Madrid, the Godskitchen tent at Global Gathering in the English countryside (a 45-minute delay only upped the madness), over to Japan, back through Europe, then South America en route to Miami for the Bang Music Festival. One of the names further down the line-up at Bang was Steve Angello, who recalled the experience when inthemix met the Swedish House Mafia backstage in Sydney.

“I played before them, actually,” he said. “It was strange, man. The whole festival was just awkward. I was on a little DJ booth with a rocky table and some CDJs. It was shaking and their whole production was behind me, covered. They came rolling with like 200 people. They had, like, vans full of friends. It was dope.”

Axwell cut in: “Do their friends know what they look like?” Angello considered it for a moment. “No. I imagine them naked with their wives in the helmet.”

Comments

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sarahanne

sarahanne said on the 21st Feb, 2013

Wow, amazing story. Nice one JackT.

angy

angy said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Yeeeeeah! I remember the excitement like it was yesterday. Really great story that's been pulled together too.

katiecunningham

katiecunningham said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Sick one, Jack. Weird cone of silence around the tour is creepy, though.

jquick42

jquick42 said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Great article. I'm always fascinated by Daft Punk

kane2188

kane2188 said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

sydney show still one of the best nights of my life

scottyk82

scottyk82 said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Hmm. Game changer... perhaps. A good gig... yes. But at end of the day it was a pyramid with flashy lights and a couple of french blokes playing solitaire. 5 years ago. Next.

Warn-A-Brotha

Warn-A-Brotha said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

While reading this - 'Robot Rock' from the Alive 2007 tour just came on Nova Nation at work - it's a sign!!

GoodLove

GoodLove said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

To this day, not going to the show in Perth is one of my biggest regrets in life.

I can't imagine what i wouldnt do for a ticket if they announced a tour tomorrow.

Nathan Explosion

Nathan Explosion said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Awesome read! If Daft Punk announce a tour of Australia, let a lone a 1-off show it would sell out in an instant

Mickstah

Mickstah said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Great article, but the gig in 2007 is highly romanticised. Apart from Daft Punk, everything about the so-called "festival" was an absolute shambles.

I'll never forget how poorly managed that gig was, and every support artist was shocking, seriously shocking. Muscles was one of the worst performances I've ever witnessed. If not for Daft Punk delivering like we knew they would, I'd label the whole event as the worst I've ever attended.

(FYI I attended the Syd gig)

theHordern

theHordern said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

ironic how daft punk, and not ice cream, saved the day.

Warn-A-Brotha

Warn-A-Brotha said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Muscles fucking ruined that festival.

And who remembers at the Sydney show - the piss filled bottles and people at the front shitting in ponchos :lol:

m_xt

m_xt said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Ha ha what mickstah said, anyone else remember lining up before the gates open to get a wrist band to ensure you were allowed exclusive access to the front section, only for it to not matter one bit at any other time of the day? Not to mention muscles who had was recovering from OD-ing playing a lolworthy set. Sebastien and Kavinski were good and warmed up well if I remember though.

Admittedly for about a year after, the question 'Were you at Daft Punk?' was asked around Sydney nightclubs as a way of making conversation with new people with knowing glances and fond memories exchanged soon after.
..or something.

barryboy

barryboy said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

Awesome article, missed the tour due to unforseen circumstances. Still the number one on my bucket list

slattikarma

slattikarma said on the 22nd Feb, 2013

The big stage set-up concept was hardly invented by Daft Punk... Underworld and Chemical Brothers spent a decade touring with large rigs with dedicated visuals before 2006... And they improvised and changed their setlists everynight too... unlike DP.

jozo

jozo said on the 23rd Feb, 2013

Its a nice feather to have in your resume.

bentas74

bentas74 said on the 24th Feb, 2013

daft punk tour was sic especially in brisbane ,great crowd heaps of room to move but the chemical brothers tour nearly every year to australia and kill it every time,
some acts give a fuck about there fans some don't

Walter_Juan

Walter_Juan said on the 24th Feb, 2013

Great read JT. Brings back memories! It really was one of the most amazing concerts I've ever experienced.

theinternetpark

theinternetpark said on the 25th Feb, 2013

Was at the Melbourne event. I remember countless fence jumpers. 20 at a time. Security would go for the slowest, usually the chick. Now there's a double fence at the Bowl ; )

clubbingsince1985

clubbingsince1985 said on the 27th Feb, 2013

It was a terrific show, but I don't remember any of the support acts being much good. Fair to say that Underworld, and The Chemical Brothers have been doing the big gig for longer, but Daft Punk are special. Something about the their personality coming through the big robot heads, and their alternately wild/daggy/mindblowing beats. Their version of Rolling and Scratching did my head in. I got a ticket from an ebay scalper, and it was worth every cent. Great article, it brought back some happy memories. I hope they come again.

laurenx

laurenx said on the 27th Feb, 2013

Got goosebumps reading that article as all the memories came flooding back. Definitely in my top five gigs of all time.

ravey davey

ravey davey said on the 1st Mar, 2013

I was there and I wanna go back..

trentrentrent

trentrentrent said on the 4th Mar, 2013

Awkward moment when the author doesn't do their research. Kavinsky isn't part of the Ed Banger stable.

JackT

JackT said on the 6th Mar, 2013

Right you are trentrentrent, amending.