This weekend marks ten years since Daft Punk debuted their pyramid stage at Coachella music festival, according to Magnetic Mag. Many people believe this is one of the most important electronic music performances of all time, so I wanted to take a moment to recognize the impact of that show on the scene we know today.
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Back in 2006, electronic dance music was a primarily European phenomenon, Coachella was a rock festival, and Daft Punk were nowhere near the household names they are now. That year, they kicked off their Alive Tour with a single US date at Coachella’s Sahara stage – a tour that is regarded as one of the most influential dance music shows of all time. So what made it so outstanding?
Even by today’s standards, in which dance musical geniuses like Porter Robinson, Madeon, and Zedd have put together sensually stunning audio-visual tours, the incredible effort Daft Punk put in to their live show and their live rig to create such a unified theatrical experience stands out. (There’s a reason those artists invoke the robots in their own shows.) By 2006, Daft Punk had already released 3 studio albums and were well known among dance music fans. But what they did with their live show was to present something that transcended the music of their records. Using samplers, keyboards, and other tools, Daft Punk transformed their back catalog into remix fodder to create an entirely new catalog of music.
The new music was brought to life through the complex rig they had assembled, known as the pyramid. The pyramid included an intricate light setup that gradually evolved over the course of the set, starting out in black and white before expanding to include dazzling color. Unfortunately, because it was 2007, much of the video that survives of the tour today is relatively low quality, and no official recording of the performance was ever offered by the band. That being said, much of the power of the performances of that tour is evident even in the relatively low quality videos available. I recommend watching the embedded video at its original size, NOT fullscreen, for the best experience.
Daft punk’s performance is recorded on their Alive 2007 album. If you haven’t ever heard that album, I suggest taking an hour to listen to it start to finish, keeping in mind that much of what you hear was sampled in real time. In today’s world of “just push play” sets,” that stands out as an achievement in itself. It’s a marvel of a remix album, and one that retains its stunning freshness even a decade later.
Alive 2007 was and remains one of the most life-changing albums I’ve ever listened to, and Daft Punk’s efforts as recorded in these videos continues to set the bar for outstanding performances, even a decade after its debut. Make sure to watch the video below for a sense of the magic that went down way back in 2006.