Concert Reviews

Kaela Sinclair Dazzled on M83's Epic Visit to The Bomb Factory

With Yacht
The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Friday, April 8, 2016

Concerts don't come with much higher feel-good levels than M83's visit to The Bomb Factory did on Friday night. The French synthpop powerhouse rolled into town for the second stop on their Junk Tour on the exact day that their new album, Junk, was released. And if that wasn't enough, they were joined by their newest member, Denton native Kaela Sinclair, who celebrated her homecoming by all but stealing the show.

Sinclair joined the band last month as keyboardist and vocalist, and her story has been a true whirlwind. Having responded to a call for applicants on Twitter from band leader Anthony Gonzalez, she nailed the audition and quickly picked up her life to head to Los Angeles for tour rehearsals. But despite her newness in the band, Sinclair proved to have a major role in proceedings at The Bomb Factory.

Her vocals took center stage on two tracks, "We Own the Night" and the roaring "Oblivian." Sinclair nailed it both times, sparking the crowd to attention and nearly melting the room with her commanding presence. Elsewhere, her harmonies were channeled nicely, her keys were prominent in the mix and she stood tall and confident, positioned at the front of the stage just to the right of Gonzalez. She fit right in, holding her own as though she’d been there since day one. 
As for the rest of the concert besides Sinclair's stellar showing, it was full of contrasts. For well over a decade, M83 have been making an expert conglomeration of gauzily textured dream pop rooted equally in the moody industrial ruminations sunny 'synthesized party pop. As an album, Junk owes much of its sound to the '80s. There are saccharine strings, yelped choruses and synths galore. A lot of wacky moments pop up throughout and while solid, the material also hints at schmaltz and maybe just a little too much ambition. The live show translated similarly, with the new songs scattered amongst much of 2011’s sprawling hit, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

The set was in turns bouncy and buoyant with numbers like “Do It, Try It” and “Road Blaster” bleeding into atmospheric pieces like “For the Kids” and “OK Pal.” They hit the jackpot in choosing “Reunion” as their opening number, though: The song’s rousing chorus and anthemic crescendos had the crowd bouncing around and releasing all of its pent-up enthusiasm. Of course, that crowd reaction proved mild in comparison to the level of bonkers experienced towards the end of the set when the band cracked into their biggest hit, 2011’s “Midnight City.”
The music was complemented by a dazzling, kaleidoscopic lighting design — which makes sense because spectacle is part of M83’s appeal and charm. They’re all about energy and emotion, and imagining their music as film scores is perfectly natural. The energy was high in the packed room throughout the 90-minute set, as the floor turned into a sweaty, dancing mess. All the while, Gonzalez was at once locked into the groove and deep in thought, saying little to the crowd during the between-song breaks — though at one point he gave a shout-out to Sinclair about her visit back home.

Opening the show was Yacht, a firecracker three-piece band that splits time between Portland and Los Angeles. Standing center stage and flanked by multi-instrumentalists Jona Bechtolt and Bob Birdman was frontwoman Claire Evans. With mannered gesticulations and pointed vocals, Evans ably proved to grab hold of the often challenging opener’s set, dazzling the arriving onlookers with quirky dance moves and enthusiastic calls to the crowd.

Like a less taciturn Talking Heads or a more subversive LCD Soundsystem, Yacht blazed their way through several joyfully exuberant songs, culminating with the eminently catchy, “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler.” 
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Jeff Strowe now calls DFW home after stints living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and New York City. He enjoys writing about music, books, beer/wine and sports. His work is also featured in Glide Magazine and PopMatters, and he has written for No Depression.