Last week Adam Grylls told you why The Cure would make a fantastic new Reading Headliner, and while he had to convince you that Robert Smith’s legendary outfit were still relevant to the Reading Festival audience of today, one point was never in question: The Cure are the type of band that you expect to see at Reading.
More than that, many of their Goth-pop derivatives, heroes and inspirations have, at one point or another, played the festival. Not a year goes by without a post-Cure riff or bass line booming out from the main stage speakers. The same cannot be said about Daft Punk.
For all the dub step artistry in the Dance Arena, for all of Pendulum’s dance crazed bluster on the NME stage, and for all of The Prodigy’s rave thuggery; Daft Punk and their signature sound, have never truly conquered Reading (despite Justice’s best efforts).
Part of the reason that Daft Punk’s sound has been so alien at Reading is because it represents a straight rejection of Prodigy and Pendulum’s embrace of the harder, rockier stuff. When they were reaching for the tough edge of slamming guitars, breakneck beats, and horror movie saws, Daft Punk threw themselves head long into the dark world of Disco and kitsch 70s pop.
In short, Daft Punk are antithesis of the acceptable rock festival dance act; they wear their love of disco romance, camp pop, Detroit House and East Side dance on their sleeve. Daft Punk’s appeal may have lead to cross over success and earned them the love of many a rock fan, but Daft Punk are not a cross over act.
So Why Should Daft Punk Headline?
In a world of repetitious headliners, where inspiring original bookings are becoming harder and harder to find, Daft Punk offer a solution. Daft Punk haven’t played a live date in the England, let alone a festival, since 2007’s staggering headline set at London’s Wireless Festival, where, to the surprise of no-one, they sold out the 40,000 single day ticket allocation.
Dance fans of all colours are clambering for Daft Punk’s live return. Each and every year a new set of rumours emerge. Last year, they were supposed to play four big European dates, but that never happened. While in every December issue, without fail, Mix-Mag beg and plead for Daft Punk to stop fucking around and get back on the road, but alas, it never happens.
It’s hard to express to the unconverted the sheer sense of yearning that surrounds this band. The dance and electronica community don’t just want them back, they’re actively pleading for their return. There’s a palpable aura, a buzz, and a united will that draws comparison only to Rage Against The Machine in 2008. Rock fans all remember that feeling, not based on any rumours or concrete hopes, but that unshakable mutual belief that this band simply has to return, and the knowledge that, when they do, it will create a moment that will endure for a lifetime.
Is Reading the obvious place for their return. No. A huge date at Hyde Park or Wembley Stadium might be a more natural fit. Glastonbury certainly fits the bill, but honestly why not Reading? If Melvin Benn really wants to do something truly special, he should reach out, and say: “I want to own this moment. When this communal eruption of joy and exultation arrives, it’s going to happen at my festival, in my field, with my fans”.
2) The Show
Joy is the word; there is no phrase and no clever combination of adjectives, that can quite express the unbridled joy of watching Daft Punk in person. The mood, the eruption of feeling, the rush; it’s not primal and visceral, nor is it lightening fast and thrilling, it’s just, an aura. A mood that descends and takes hold, that imbues a crowd with a new sense of community and warmth, as they unite as one, smiling, dancing, entirely taken by the moment.
Daft Punk are like no other act. Give them two hours and they will not stop. They will mix relentlessly, they will layer beat atop brilliant beat, they will squeeze in all those awful inexplicable album tracks, and make you smack your forehead in disbelief and say “Woah, I get it now, that’s why “Steam Machine” exists”.
Everything has a purpose, and every beat, every synth line, every snatched sample; it all builds to some grand euphoric high. No motion is wasted. There is no filler. From “Technologic” to “One More Time” it’s all killer, no filler, pure uninterrupted bliss.
You might not expect it, but Daft Punk shows are defined by crowd surfers, legions of them. They are people not violently steam rolling their way to the front, they are not roaring along to some blisteringly fast riff, they are simply savouring the moment, creating an odd, weightless moment of stasis, completely embracing, and giving themselves over to the sound and the romance of the occasion.
Oh and don’t worry, if you’re the type who likes to stand at the back rather than dance at the front, Daft Punk play atop a giant graphic laden pyramid, surrounded by a wall of suitably dramatic lights, and I can assure you, “Aerodynamic” is just as spectacular, and just as capable of blowing your mind, if your standing still instead shaking your hips.
3) Communal Factor & Those Hits
Dance music is universal. Rock is always at a disadvantage. To a certain extent, if you don’t know a rock band’s material, there is a sense of exclusion. It can be hard to “get” someone first time around, if you know just one song, you might not fancy sitting through a band’s entire set and you may struggle to fully engage with their show. The great bands can overcome this problem, but it will always work against the Kings Of Leon and Killers of this world.
Dance is innate, it’s physical, almost primal and, love it or hate it, a fall to the floor beat evokes an instantaneous reaction. It’s why the soulless David Guetta has become a pop guru, and it’s why his limp sound is face of pop production in 2011. He can provide immediacy, and provoke a mechanical reaction that bland synths and generic riffs cannot rival.
Daft Punk are the genre’s king pins, Guetta may repeat simple tricks over and over again, but Daft Punk practical wrote the rule book on 21st Century dance, they are so talented, and so multi-faceted, that they’ll be so busy blowing your mind with interlaced grooves and dazzling visuals that you won’t even notice that you’ve been dancing your arse off to their metronomic beats for the best part of an hour.
On top of all this, Daft Punk have hits, they’re not outsiders at all. “Around The World” isn’t a Dance Anthem, it’s practically a staple of human existence, you can drop that track in an indie disco in Toyko, G-A-Y night in Soho or in a field of 50,000 in California and everyone will know it. “One More Time” is euphoria; it dominated the radio and was an inescapable hit, everyone will know it.
“Technologic” is ludicrously addictive, so much so, that Busta Rhymes conquered the charts three times with a plethora of lazy remixes, its robotic commands are so universal, so direct, it gnaws at your cranium. It’s cute, crafty and beefy. Another rapper, Kanye West decided he’d rework the equally incestuous “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” for his own benefit, making sure that those who missed out on this dance classic first time around, are more than familiar with it today.
“Robot Rock” has more than a little riffy rock edge, and was a big hit not too long ago, not only will everyone know the beat, but it’ll be right at home at Reading, Justice have been ripping off DP’s slamming Robot rock formula for years now.
Oh and then there’s “Da Funk”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard it before, it’s “Da Funk”! It dominates, it overcomes, it forces you to dance, and it will be the best damn moment of the entire weekend, not when they play it, but when it emerges. That’s right. Daft Punk don’t play “Da Funk”, they drop it here, there and everywhere. A minute here, two minutes there, as a sexy-arsed bridge between “Aerodynamic” and “One More Time”, sneaking in after “Television Rules The Nation” and before “Digital Love”, they won’t even play it in full, but it will not leave your head for the rest of week, if it ever does.
So Why Again? And Be Quick About It This Time.
Well there are a million reasons why they shouldn’t. They’re the wrong type of music, they’d clash with everyone underneath them, they haven’t released a proper album in years, but honestly who cares? I’m not here to tell you why they shouldn’t play; I’m he to tell you why they should.
Daft Punk will sell out their day tickets, their one off return will galvanize their extraordinarily large fan base, it will be the talk of town, the Daft Punk name in black on that yellow poster will make Reading and Leeds the event of the summer, and most importantly of all, they will put on one of the greatest shows you could ever imagine.
Daft Punk are that good, they are the best in the world at what they do, they are Dance’s finest.
Sure, there will be other great live performances over the years, they will be different, and might they just be as good, but you will never see anything quite like Daft Punk again. And, most importantly, you will never feel anything quite like Daft Punk again, they have an essence, a mood, an atmosphere and an aura that is both impossible to recreate and entirely their own.
Let Foo Fighters and Green Day sell the weekend tickets, and, like Arcade Fire, Metallica, and Rage Against The Machine before them, let Daft Punk create a truly unforgettable moment.
Oh and did I mention, they’re Robots, how cool is that.
The First Robots to headline Reading and Leeds!
Make it happen.