The Empire of the Sun tour, feat. Miami Horror, brought them to the Congress Theater in Chicago. You can check out our review after the break.
Empire of the Sun don’t play concerts, they put on productions. From before appearing on stage till the final bows, everything on stage was like a well crafted theater production, with a side of thumping bass.
As a symphonic piece filled the air and a giant white curtain was dropped, the near capacity crowded screamed in anticipation. When the curtain dropped to reveal singer/mastermind Luke Steele the venue was borderline delirious. With dancers making frequent changes including costumes as swordfish and roadies dressed as ninjas with gas masks, this was not going to be a regular concert.
Empire of the Sun opened the show with Standing On The Shore, the first song on their debut album Walking On A Dream. It’s strummed guitar introduction was instantly recognizable, and the crowd was quick to sing along to the catchy chorus, “Don’t want to talk, all I hear is noise, don’t want to talk.” Steele performed double duty, bouncing back and forth between his guitar and keyboard bank at the front of the stage.
The second song, Headed For A Breakdown, was not on their album, and showcased a different direction for the band. It featured heavily manipulated vocals and a harder dance sound than the songs on their album. Continuing their assault on genre-defined music, the next song was Half Mast, a sort of surf-dance hybrid with enough instrumental breaks for Steele to run around stage for his various guitar parts. The genre bending theatrics are quite a departure compared to Steele’s other excellent band, The Sleepy Jackson, who are more straightforward rock and roll.
Continuing the crazy visuals was an ocean scene with different sea animals swimming through and a return of the swordfish dancers, leading in to the hit Swordfish Hotkiss Night. The electro-disco song ended with a long instrumental to provide Steele to change costumes for the final couple songs of the main set. One of these was Tiger By My Side, which had a rave like feel and really got the crowd reenergized.
After a short encore break for costume changes for the band and dancers, the crowd was screaming with anticipation for the encore. The opening keys of Walking On A Dream led to absolute pandemonium in the crowd, and a mass sing along throughout the song. After quick instrumental the band and dancers came out to the front of the stage to bow to the crowd. They seemed genuinely appreciative of the energy the crowd provided.
Openers Miami Horror were a pleasant surprise. Also hailing from Australia, they had a sound that was a pleasant blend of Cut Copy, Empire of the Sun and 80’s keyboard rock bands. Highlights of their set included Imagination and Make You Mine. Imagination was upbeat dance rock with a catchy chorus, perfect for fans of bands like MGMT or Foster The People. Make You Mine featured two drummers for parts and was more rock than their other songs.
Information about the review…
Tour: Empire of the Sun Tour feat Miami Horror
Bands: Empire of the Sun and Miami Horror
Venue: Congress Theater in Chicago, IL
Date: September 14, 2011