Dan Whitford is really good at what he does. As the frontman for Cut Copy, he’s seen the Australian group reach critical success and popular appeal, which, if you're Cut Copy, aren’t mutually exclusive achievements. You’ve probably heard some of Cut Copy’s more driving hits like "Lights and Music" on an episode of Nip/Tuck or the FIFA ’09 soundtrack. It’s all really danceable stuff that takes its cues from 80’s punk, disco and trance. Cut Copy knows how to get you moving and have found a way to manage the experiment in some very innovative ways.
Originally, the band started as Dan Whitford’s experiment. It then grew beyond that to the current line-up, which includes Tim Hoey, Mitchell Scott and Ben Browning. In other ways the band has grown too. It’s 2011 now and Whitmore et. al., are on their third LP. They’ve issued a few EPs and some singles too, all of which have hit very eager audiences. Additionally, Cut Copy have been headliners at not a few big name music festivals—the most memorable in my mind being Pitchfork 2011, where they were a crowd favorite.
Cut Copy started out, though, during a rough time for the sort of music they create, which has been called, among other things, “house”, “blog-house”, “electro-pop” or “synth-pop.” The list trails on. The problem, which persists today, is that there are difficulties in appreciating Cut Copy because of the kind of music they create. Dance-pop, if you want, is really hard to do well. Because, I’m sure you remember those obligatory proms or homecomings or less than thrilling house parties where it seemed like the music was practically built to kill a mood. You could have been dancing to a remix of a remix of 50 Cent or Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf. You may have even thrown in the hat and gone home early, convinced that dancing, for the most part, was a waste of time.
If this wasn’t your experience, it certainly was mine. It was not until I reached college and the years post-college that I really got a taste for how bright, open and positive good dance music can be. Cut Copy have been unknowing ambassadors for this small revolution in my life. And my hunch is that this rings true for many others.
It’s hard to give a taste of my experience because a lot of it revolves around the dance-floor, where the music is loud and the lights can only help you make out friendly shadows or a quick glance across the room. It’s also music that’s quite difficult to talk about, in its cheekiness and its obviousness. But, like Coldplay, you listen to Cut Copy, because you’re ready to let your long day sitting behind a desk evaporate. It’s body music. You just have to be there. The rest will take care of itself.
- John Scherer
Today I discovered I had a body, and it can dance. I had never been to a concert where I danced before; the closest I ever got was some casual swaying at the end of the Civil Wars’ concert last year. But last night I saw Cut Copy, Washed Out, and Midnight Magic. My feet are sore, my ears are ringing, and my soul is refreshed. This makes last night’s concert sound remarkable, and indeed it was. And yes, it was completely pop music, through and through. But it was genuine, passionate, and joyful; qualities in music that are sometimes hard to find.
Authentic is a word that can be thrown around a lot when talking about music; often heralding indie/alternative music as real expression than mainstream pop. But authenticity is a quality that is easy to identify when you see it, and it was unabashedly present last night. Some may scoff and say “But it’s simple pop music! How can that be authentic?” Such an accusation is likely due to the negative connotations pop music has acquired over the years. Today’s pop music scene often feels manufactured and manipulative, making bands like Cut Copy such a breath of fresh air. Their intentions were clear; they wanted us to listen pleasurably, dance joyfully, and feel the music.
What made this concert different? Why was the music so affecting? Perhaps all these questions can be answered when put back into the context of live performance. There is a raw energy given to live performances that recordings can never have; that of physical presence of the artist in communication with the audience. After all, bands aren’t the only ones performing: the audience communicates as well, not just through applause or even dancing. Audiences are always communicating and responding in a live show, whether it be thunderous applause, thoughtful silence, or joyful dance.
The Cut Copy set in particular is a great example of the communication between an audience and an artist. The final song, “Need You Now” was perfect communication, the audience and the band singing together, and with outstretched arms, performing the very longing expressed in the song. That is something incredibly powerful and moving that you can never experience outside of the live performance. Throughout the night, both band and audience communicate back and forth through movement and sound. While being fantastically entertaining, it created joyful, aesthetically beautiful communication.
The show proves why live music is the best way to engage with music; you don’t just listen, but you experience it. You literally feel the beat pulsing within you and music surrounding you, making the live performance a much more sensual experience. And although recordings can capture technical quality, they can’t capture the relationship between the audience and the performer or the physicality of the communication. Truly live performance’s raw power is evident; it’s sensually engaging, artistically communicative, and ultimately temporal. Impossible to replicate, they are something special to savor. So I hold my aching body in pride (I danced barefoot!), proof that something amazing happened last night, achieving not only fantastic artistic entertainment, but the essence of shalom.
- Jacqueline Ristola