Empire Of The Sun 8/8 Terminal 5 Review

By Sophia Hepheastou

Emerging somewhere between David Bowie’s Labyrinth and Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Empire of the Sun completely took my breath away on August 8th at Terminal 5. There were so many wow-worthy elements, I literally forgot I was at a concert and instead felt like a little kid in an epic carnival funhouse. Nick Littlemore, front man of Pnau and Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson appeared out of nowhere with sultry smoke filling the eerily neon lit stage. Surrounded by sequin clad interpretive dancers and space- themed projections they began the set with a monotone voiceover reminiscent of early 90s dance anthems. Steel teased fans as he skillfully strung the melodic guitar part in “Standing on the Shore.” Perfectly coiffed with a Statue of Liberty- esque headpiece, Steele pranced around the stage creating an infectious energy, pushing fans to just forget everything and dance. Within the first track everyone was dancing, smiling and eagerly waiting for more. Switching gears- the pair opted for a more rhythmic track with “Breakdown,” and then dreamily segued into “Half Mast”. Steele’s drone- like voice seamlessly melted with Littlemore’s crescendo-ed keyboard effects. Lights flashed on the stage and sweaty fans sang “ Honey, I need you now,” grabbing friends to declare “Baby don’t push me out.” Each track smoothly faded into the next, creating a uniform performance with no end or beginning, just sweet tunes. Next up, with a cathartic guitar opening was “We Are The People.” Aware of the dancers shimmying and shaking all their best assets both Littlemore and Steele were focused and well- rehearsed, appearing as though they were on a mission rather than just singing a live show.

The synth-driven music worked well with the aesthetic add-ons—Who doesn’t love giant jellyfish photos superimposed over purple- hued space nebulas and tron-like graphics? With mini- voiceover breaks Steele vanished allowing an interpretive dance interlude to take place- the dancers of course changed costumes too. Dressed in blue- unitard spandex outfits and perfectly choreographed, it looked like a scene from The Fifth Element. Steele re-appeared wearing a different Star-Trek space inspired get-up and picked up with “The World,” busting out with some sweet falsetto vocals – everyone was swooning and swaying taking in the dream-sequence like track. Hitting a wishy – washy, twangy emotional note– Steele sang “ I get that feeling when we’re apart” in “Without You,” bringing me and all the other love-torn fans back to all those rainy days where all you do is watch 80s chick- flicks—Jake Ryan , sigh. Nearing the end the guys played “Tiger By My Side,” a cute upbeat track that drifted into the highly anticipated song, “Walking On A Dream.” The simple beat crept in and Steele playfully made fans wait for the first vocal drop. Finally it came and instantly everyone was dancing , jumping up and down as though we are all literally “Walking on a dream,” one that mirrored a European dance-hall rave with a Neverending Story backdrop. The song ended on a euphoric note with Steele, Littlemore and all the interpretive dancers taken aback by the amount of support/ enthusiasm generated by fans.

Watching Empire of The Sun had to be one of the most cathartic and enjoyable performances I have seen in a long time. Their integrated approach to music and art creates a hybrid experience; one that is not only ethereal, but more like a spectacle rather than a traditional show. Each track seemed to evoke a different human emotion—making the whole thing meatier. The music came to life, but more importantly it defied all traditional norms of what seeing a band live can/ should be.

1. Intro
2. Standing on the Shore
3. Breakdown
4. Half Mast
5. We Are The People
6. Delta Bay
7. The World
8. Swordfish Hotkiss Night
9. Without You
10. Tiger By My Side
11. Walking on a Dream

(All photos courtesy of Sophia Hepheastou)

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