Written by on July 19, 2011

Cut Copy performed Sunday at Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, Chicago at 7:25pm.  Since I am a huge fan, and they were the sole reason I decided to buy my tickets to the festival, I thought it appropriate to do a quick write up on their performance.

Cut Copy’s set was fairly standard for what any fan would expect. A solid set of the best singles and tracks off Zonoscope, the hits from In Ghost Colours, and one older tune from Bright Like Neon Love.

Feel the Love
Where I’m Going
So Haunted
Corner of the Sky
Lights and Music
Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution
Take Me Over
Pharaohs and Pyramids
Saturdays
Hearts on Fire
Need You Now

As a fan service, the track selection was sugary sweet and served perfectly.  The only choice I personally would have made would be to replace “So Haunted,” arguably one of In Ghost Colours‘ least interesting songs with a better offering such as “Out There on the Ice,” but I was surprised with how well it attracted audience participation so their performance of “So Haunted” was actually quite passable.  Otherwise it was a well constructed rise-and-fall sampling of what makes Cut Copy the powerhouse they are in Australia and what allows their popularity in America to remain on the rise.  And they played one of my favorites, a most likely lesser-known track from Zonoscope called “Corner of the Sky,” which was probably the most typical song for the band on that album but it embodies everything I as a fan know and enjoy about them.

Production value however was a little less than I expected.  Yes, all the instruments were played well and the band gave excellent performances, but there was a serious lack in the tweeter department for a band whose greatest assets are the electronic buzzes and keyboard riffs that pattern throughout their discography.  I can’t fault Cut Copy as much for this as I could the venue, as I have to say Baths sounded much better on the smaller Blue Stage than Cut Copy did right up close.  And to those of us fans, we all knew what was going on the whole time, but a lot of the character in the songs seemed to dissolve in the (also admittedly timid) bass lines.  The band seemed to be slightly aware of this the whole time, but continued on without hesitation.

It was of course the individual performances but frontman Dan Whitford and guitarist/backup Tim Hoey that embellished their already electronic/ambient vibe and brought the audience into the music.  There wasn’t as much movement as could be seen in more active bands, which detracted only very little.  In truth, Whitford’s simultaneous use of keyboard and slow, forceful arm motions really focused the crowd to pay attention to his lyrics. In many ways his absence or presence of emotion and energy acted as a barometer for the crowd to know when exactly to be pumped or to cool down. And Hoey kept things moving in the background, whether playing cowbells for “Pharaohs and Pyramids” or just rocking out in the back until he had to move forward to do the always variable “ooh”s and “ahh”s that permeate their soundscape.  These same background noises made for constant audience interaction and are themselves a subtle hint as to how these guys can perform a slow song like “Take Me Over” yet somehow turn it into a passionate, participatory rock song.

Best songs of the night were most like “Lights and Music,” “Hearts on Fire,” and “Take Me Over” in declining succession.  The audience bounced, danced and “oooh”ed along at every chance. As a Cut Copy fan, I came out exhausted and satisfied. I think I’d rather see them in an enclosed venue more suited to their style, but once you’ve experienced “Lights and Music” with hundreds of other people, those little details seem to fade away.
If you like these guys at all, I eagerly suggest you try and see them.