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Friday, March 25, 2011

It's "happy up here" when Röyksopp plays Masquerade's Heaven

It's really too bad audiences associate Röyksopp with a Geico commercial or elevator music, because as witnessed last night at the Masquerade, the Norwegian electronic group can rock out. Or is that royk out? With an oeuvre ranging from snoozey ambient tunes to raucous dance bangers, the group stuck to their upbeat songs to keep the audience on its feet in Heaven all night.

I have a love of Scandinavian acts that write English songs, and Röyksopp confirmed my love with a theatrical show. The members had sacks on their heads and Daft Punk-like space helmets and robot visors, constantly changing their head ware. The group opened with dancey instrumentals of a few of their songs before breaking out with the vocals and at times went into the full-on dance equivalent of "Stairway to Heaven." During the middle of the concert, the two guitarists jammed back-to-back with green lights behind them in a Mötley Crüe-like spectacle. But the Norwegians remained polite throughout the whole show, incessantly thanking the audience and declaring "Ah-tlan-tah" as a great crowd. "Is that medicinal," the singer asked cutely when he smelled marijuana. No, it's just the stank of the Masquerade.

Röyksopp uses female vocals in many of their songs, including Robyn in the instant classic "Girl and the Robot," but pixie singer Amelie took their place. Amelie sounded great the whole night, pitch-perfect yet still uniquely human, a perfect complement to the group's computerized sound. She changed outfits throughout the show, from a glow-in-the-dark half inflatable tube number to a Gaga-esque crown, all while wearing a black body suit. Unlike Daft Punk, though, the group wasn't afraid to reveal their faces, adding a level of intimacy along with the sweaty dancing. When the floor starts shaking in Heaven and you're positive you're going to fall through, you know it's a good night.

Opening act Jon Hopkins spun dark-but-not-too-dark techno tunes, and was actually rather good. A skinny guy with a clean take on the ol' bowl haircut, Hopkins won over the audience with his intensity. But I find DJs that rock out to their laptops a little strange. Jamming your head and violently flicking your wrists to your own computer is so masturbatory.

Being at the Masquerade was nostalgic for me, as many of my first times dancing my ass off and getting shwastey-face took place at the club's 18+ 80s Night. I stopped by the dance night in Hell after the concert, and while it's way less retro and Gothy than it used to be, it really took me back to a sweeter, more innocent time of throwing up because I didn't know how to handle my alcohol.

The audience was the usual Masquerade crowd, except for a man in his late 50s wearing a button-up shirt with a burnt orange sweatervest on top of it. I was instantly fascinated by him. What was he doing there? The whole night I kept an eye out for his every move. The gentleman enjoyed himself, smiling and nodding along. I like to imagine that the older man wasn't a Röyksopp fan to begin with and maybe even had preconceived notions about electronic music. I imagine he must have been dragged by his younger nephew. But I can rest assured that he's now a fan of Norwegians in outlandish outfits playing dance music. Because, honestly, what's not to like about that?

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