M83• w/ Jeremiah Chiu• Ogden Twilight •May 6, 2023• Ogden Amphitheater
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
It’s that time of year again! Outdoor concerts have returned to Utah! Things are finally warming up and our outdoor venues are ready to be used. Leading things off this year is the Ogden Twilight Series. They opened their series with Electronic Alternative band, M83. M83 was joined by Jeremiah Chiu. It was to be a night of great Electronic Music. The concert sold out quickly so it was obvious that not only were Utahns ready to see these musicians, but they were ready for Summer to begin and to finally be outside.
Do you know what doesn’t go great with Electronic Music? Rain. Rain probably isn’t the best weather for a bunch of synthesizers and sequencers. An initial storm came through and passed. This allowed Chiu to take the stage and uncover his gear. There were clouds in the distance, but for now, music was starting! The season was officially underway!
Jeremiah Chiu is an electronic composer. His equipment consisted of what looked like an opened up suitcase filled with nobs, wires, and dials. Chiu would reroute the wiring and move through his compositions with an engineer-like artistry. His music was instrumental and totally drew in the focus of the crowd. There were beats and baselines but I think people just wanted to focus on what he was doing. It was really impressive. Following every song the crowd cheered what they just heard. I noticed people looking at each other saying “How does he do all that?”. I’ve enjoyed watching other synth masters like Vince Clarke and Martin Gore create their music with analog wiring. But I’ve never seen it in real time in front of a crowd. It was so cool.
As we were waiting for the crew to take down Jeremiah Chiu’s gear and set up M83’s, dark clouds were now above us. We were moments away from M83 taking the stage and moments from rainfall. I had the benefit of being in the photo pit for the first three songs. The stage and pit were under a huge overhang. So we were in good shape unless major winds were to come along with the precipitation. Many in attendance were prepared. They put on raincoats and ponchos anticipating the downpour. The less prepared embraced the moment and situation. They were ready to get wet.
There was a mist in the air as M83 took the stage. As the band began performing the rain came down. M83 opened their set ironically, with “Water Deep”. I’m not sure how you feel about being in the rain during a concert. I wouldn’t say I’d prefer it show after show. But with the right attitude and rainwear, I think it’s really fun. This is what I noticed with the crowd. They just got into it and didn’t care. The fog machine on stage went wild as lights from every corner of the stage flashed and shined. It was a really amazing visual. Perfect lighting for Electronic Music. The rain didn’t last forever. Ponchos came off, and people shook out the water from their hair. We made it through and everyone warmed up as they danced to this great music
M83 frontman, Anthony Gonzalaz asked, “Are you Cold?”. The crowd roared back, “No!” Truth was, it was a chili night. But people kept moving and no one seemed too cold. Even with some of them being drenched. Gonzalez didn’t say much. What he did do is lead the band through over 20 song set. Songs like “Gone”, “Dismemberment”, and “Teen Angst” sounded so great in a concert setting. Personal favorites, “We Own The Sky” and “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea” ended the main set. The band went for it, just totally rocking out to some of these songs.
Calling them an “electronic band” shortchanges them a bit. Yes, they have keyboards and synthesizers throughout the stage. But there were live drums, guitars, and other live instruments. So it wasn’t what you might picture in an electronic band. I just know that the crowd was totally loving it. And so was I.
When you have a huge song like “Midnight City” there is no mystery that you’ll play it. But the surprise is to know when. M83 came out and played it for the first song of their encore. People went nuts. It’s such a great song. I had never seen M83 live before. But I’ve been listening to that song since it came out. The live version was better than I could have ever expected. People totally let loose, singing along, and dancing as if they were in their bedroom with headphones on. The song was worth all the rain and cold. I couldn’t help but smile at all the people pogoing up and down.
Gonzalez thanked the audience by saying “I know it’s really cold out there, but you make it really warm”. Ogden Twilight is off to a great start. Can’t wait to see what Kaskade does on June 30!