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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Daft Punk's powerful arena rave

July 23, 2007|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Daft Punk is not an act restricted by lowered expectations. If the long-anticipated tidal wave of dance-music popularity crashed with the new millennium, focusing less on massive raves than intimate club shows, the French duo's sold-out concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Saturday was a startling show of force.

Standing atop a giant pyramid, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo performed 90 minutes of thunderous beats, electro-riffs and effects in a set that included such excited signature songs as "Da Funk" and "Aerodynamic."

The first 30 minutes were restless and relentless -- later the duo only occasionally slipped into monochromatic beats. They began with "Robot Rock," soon followed by "Technologic," as key "lyrics" from the song flashed on the big screen behind them: "touch," "bring," "pay," "start," "watch" etc.

Daft Punk entered to the interplanetary greeting from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It was a sound rooted in '70s sci-fi, much like the duo's "robot" motorcycle helmets, shiny headgear that could have been lifted from "Battlestar Galactica" or "Star Wars." The helmets leveled the concert experience for fans. Whether they were up in the rafters or up close, there wasn't much of a difference. The real physical energy was expressed by the crowd.

Before the headliners were even onstage, the crowd was already approaching full boil during a stirring preamble from support act Sebastian & Kavinsky, another pair of French DJs. But this wasn't '90s dance culture reborn. Glow sticks and costumes were in short supply on Saturday. Daft Punk aimed higher than that, delivering its beats and riffs dramatically into the present.

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