When Luke Steele was raised onto the stage with his fist in the air as the sun slowly faded into the distance behind us and the neon lights glistened off the sweaty crowd, one word came to mind: Magical.
Halfway into the set I finally asked, ‘Where is the other guy?” Also known as Nick Littlemore, he completes the incredible electronic duo Empire of the Sun. Apparently he doesn’t tour unless he’s getting that paper. Lots of it, to be more specific. To learn more, you may want to Google it to get more of the backstory.
Becoming a big fan of the group a few years back during their Walking on a Dream days, I had pretty much put them in the dismal category of “awesome bands I really want to see that I probably never will because they’re: 1. International and 2. Just always bubbling under mainstream.” They have been taken out of that category officially. Where do I begin?!
The set was the most elaborate and psychedelic of the festival that I saw, which aligns perfectly with their whole vibe. I shouldn’t have been surprised seeing this after thoroughly enjoying all of their other trippy music videos. Four performers, dressed in blue plastic cat suits and astronaut helmets, paraded flamboyantly around the stage adding a whole other level of entertainment to the set. Luke Steele was a beast, holding it down with his gold metallic headdress and signature white makeup visor as he plucked his guitar singing, “The dreamer fought the battleship away, it’s over the horizon” on the bridge of “DNA.”
More hypnotic visuals were displayed on the impressive back screen while Luke and the rest of the band jammed to songs from the debut, first with the dreamy “Standing on the Shore” and then onto personal favorite of the night “We Are the People.” A floating eye in a pyramid took over as the blue cat suited changed to a small red army of house of card figures shredding their lit up matching guitars.
Barely pausing to tell us “This is from the new record”, Steele bombarded us with the bouncy “Concert Pitch” and dancy summer jam “Celebrate” as well as the title track of the Ice on the Dune release. After the new tracks the stage lights dropped and an arcadey 3D track ala Tron runs and he reminded the crowd of why they fell in love with the band in the first place with the anthem “Walking on a Dream.” Steele came back to perform and close out with the pumping “Alive.”
Luke Steele and his supporting band put on an entire performance. You can tell how much planning, blood, sweat and tears actually went into the event. He gave the whole package even if he is only half the band: visuals, choreography, great energy with an awesome live band and performance artists supporting. Hopefully this will be the first of many times seeing this hard working man of music!
Ice on the Dune is available now via Capitol Records.
– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design