M83 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, by Estefany Gonzalez
M83 (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)

M83 made the Bay Area forget about the pouring rain outside of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Thursday, October 27 and transported the audience to another galaxy with a starlit backdrop, fog machine, and an epic light show.

As I watched laser lights brush upon the faces of dancing concert-goers and Anthony Gonzalez, M83’s ringleader and the creative genius behind seven studio albums, I thought back to a recent interview I read on Billboard about M83’s new album. In the article Gonzalez said, “I wanted to have this collection of songs that aren’t supposed to fit together on an album, with the challenge in mind to actually make them fit.”

As the band played song after song, I understood what Gonzalez meant. This theory applied not only to the new album, but the band as a whole. M83’s music changes constantly and stands out among other synth-pop or electronic acts because no two songs are the same. Yet, as I watched the crowd dance without missing a beat, I saw how well the songs worked as a unit.

Tracks from the newest record Junk, such as “Do It, Try It” and “Laser Gun,” which carry upbeat ‘80s keyboards and funky bass notes are vastly different from those on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Despite the change in sound, I saw a man in his 50s and a teenage girl next to me just as excited for the new songs as popular singles like “Midnight City” and “Steve McQueen” off  the latter album.

The dynamic connection between each member was present in a manner that did not require speech. Band members spoke few words during the set, with the exception of the numerous times Gonzalez shouted, “San Francisco! San Francisco!”

In response, I heard the crowd cheer as though Gonzalez flashed a cue card to scream at the top of one’s lungs when he yelled the name of the city. The audiences screams proved banter and heartfelt stories about song meanings weren’t needed— M83’s stage presence mattered more than small talk.

The newest addition to the band, Kaela Sinclair, who won a spot in the line-up back in March via an online public audition, joined them. Her stage chemistry with the band made it seem at though she’d been with the group for the full 15 years its been together. Jordan Lawlor, who also joined in a similar way in 2011, played as if he were a wind-up doll whose motor was stuck on rotation. His feet hardly seemed to touch the floor as he bounced around the stage and swapped effortlessly between guitar, keyboard, and drum synthesizers.

At the end of the show, as the band took their final bow, I thought back to that quote I’d read and to the eclectic group of people of all ages around me. M83 not only brought together a distinct catalog of songs, but also a diverse collection of people.

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