It was May, 2006, in Indio, CA when the landscape of live music performance changed. Two Frenchmen cladded in robot attire were carted to the Sahara dance tent where they would put on their first show of the new millennium. No one had actually seen them in their new personas before, only in promotional material, but as they made their way to the tent, with the crowd chanting “DAFT PUNK, DAFT PUNK” heard from a mile away, they finally took the stage to a starving audience after a thirty-minute delay, and continued to blow everyone’s minds and the world with the most psychedelic LED light show ever produced.
And nothing was matched again. In the decade following that performance, and the Alive tour as a whole, numerous acts ranging from rock to EDM have taken the same blueprint from Daft Punk’s performance and formulized it into something of a conceptual draw. Now, DJ’s all over have immersive, larger than life LED panels that can project further and brighter than ever. It quickly became the meal ticket for what people would judge to be a “good” live show. Even though, however, it’s often abused and misused, not justified by the music it’s being pulled by. At some point, one has to ask, who’s pulling who? The stagecoach or the horse?
But it was the first show of its kind, one that influenced a generation of musicians and producers, to which everyone followed suit. So much so that it’s now considered the norm to have visual displays of LEDs. It was the tour that spawned all tours. A moment that would be hard to replicate.
And so we wait, and wait, in hopes of another show or possible glimpse in the public eye. But how do you top that? How do you top the show to end all shows? Simple: you wait until the time’s right.
Daft Punk have never been repeaters, and have rarely done anything twice professionally. What they’re sure of though is that they aim to make their music sound timeless, as popular as Chic’s “Freak Out,” or Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Which is why it takes so long for them to produce a record – they take the proper time away from it in order to revisit it to ensure how timeless it truly is.
But for a tour? That’s a different story. Who’s to say they’ll be back anytime soon? If they were to re-emerge in the public eye for a tour, how would they raise the bar this time? How would they spawn another generation of performers? What new live technology has become available since then to revolutionize live music? The only way they would come back is to do something drastically new, as well as usher in a new phase of their careers.
Until all of these elements introduce themselves, until all those factors come into play, we will most likely not see a Daft Punk show anytime soon. They think in terms of power. It’s their way or the highway. If they can’t perform their music in the outlet they want, they won’t do it at all, aiming for a type of perfection that we never thought could exist.
However, unlike the finite-ness of life, their music is so timeless that it will live on forever. As implied by the chorus of “One More Time,” there is an end. It’s coming. This will be the last go around. We are limited by our own mortality. Everything on this green Earth will eventually die off. Daft Punk and “One More Time,” however, won’t.