Pop & Hiss

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Live: Cut Copy's blizzard of Oz

March 12, 2009 | 12:51 pm

Cut Copy was just full of surprises during its recent two-night stand in L.A. After having the LAFD unceremoniously shut down a beyond sold-out gig at the Music Box @ Fonda on Tuesday night, the Australian dance mob wisely moved the whole operation to the much larger and more comfortable confines of the Club Nokia downtown for the second show.

Any danger and lawless excitement of the previous night’s proceedings was drastically muted by Club Nokia's plush “new car smell.” Still, Cut Copy and their able support acts worked just that much harder to fire up the impressive crowd, which packed the main floor all the way to the bar and well into the balcony.

Matt & Kim’s spastic nerd-punk missives went over well with the bobbing heads down front, thanks to rapid-fire rhythms and over-caffeinated charm (not to mention a well-placed cover of '80s pop-metal nugget “The Final Countdown” by Europe).

Fellow Australian DJ Knightlife played a somewhat wobbly set of digital dance re-edits on CD, picking up steam with the In Flagranti remix of the Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” before settling into a straightforward, thumping, rave-approved groove.

But the night was all about Cut Copy, which is proving to be the most formidable Australian export since INXS.

Cut Copy ably combines an inherent penchant for pop melodies with infectious dance beats (and an encyclopedic knowledge of the dance-rock greats that came before them), and their nuanced sound kick-started the crowd almost immediately. Led by freshly bearded singer Dan Whitford (who made a sincere apology for the previous night’s debacle), the act plied the crowd with sunny, Split Enz-meets-Daft Punk pop-hop (“Feel the Love”) next to pristine, '80s-tinged synth-pop seduction (“Hearts on Fire,” “Lights & Music”).

But Cut Copy, performing as a four-piece, was most impressive when the act all but abandoned its comfort zone to dig into “So Haunted,” pulling out guitars to bash out a discordant dirge of shoe-gazing chords more reminiscent of Sonic Youth or Nirvana than New Order. But the magic happens during the song’s chorus, which sparkles with layered harmonies that could've been left over from Electric Light Orchestra’s “Out of the Blue.”

Given the rapturous response when the foursome finally took their bows around midnight, it’s clear they'll need plenty of space when they eventually find their way back to town. They've earned it.

-- Scott T. Sterling

Photo: Modular Records