Cut Copy dazzles with infectious energy

Photo: Amid an ebullient hybrid of lights and music, the Melbourne, Australia-based band brought their synthpop act to San Francisco's Regency Ballroom last Sunday.
Javier Panzar/Photo
Amid an ebullient hybrid of lights and music, the Melbourne, Australia-based band brought their synthpop act to San Francisco's Regency Ballroom last Sunday.

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The Regency Ballroom played host to an explosive invasion from Down Under last Sunday night as a luminescent door eerily opened to reveal four dapper young men who greeted the crowd with bashful smiles and blithe waves. Clad in semi-formal attire and adorned with cheeky exuberance, the Australian quartet went on to win hearts as they rhapsodized about fiery love and desperate longings. Delivering the latter of a two-day set, Cut Copy had the chance to experiment with theatrics the night before and as a result, flaunted a polished and elegant showcase. Girls swooned, guys moshed, couples danced under the warm lights - it was all part of the Cut Copy experience, no big deal.

Before Cut Copy could work their magic, New York-based remix duo Holy Ghost! gave a preview of the night. Flaunting tracks that brimmed with vintage disco synths and echoed vocals, Holy Ghost! exhibited an almost uncanny similarity to the headliner. The two electronica artists, backed by additional members on bass and drums, kept their set succinct and memorable. Alternating between chugs of beer and head bobs, Holy Ghost! brushed away Sunday-night lethargy and enticed their fair share of hip sways and fist pumps.

Despite Holy Ghost!'s surplus of groove, Cut Copy were not to be easily overshadowed. With strains of "Visions" firing from the speakers, the lights dimmed, the door flew open and shadowy outlines filled the stage. As the Melburnian foursome unleashed an old favorite, "Nobody Lost, Nobody Found," Cut Copy's infectious charisma revitalized the previously listless audience.

What sets Cut Copy's persona apart is their aim to liven and charm rather than to disorient and stun, offering us their energy instead of merely siphoning it from the crowd. Exuding an unparalleled onstage personality, Cut Copy's neatly styled hair and crisp shirts quickly turned tousled and sweat-soaked after just a few minutes. Frontman Dan Whitford's elegant, almost poetic, hand gestures certainly added new dimensions as he moved from traditional air drumming to flowing swirls. Not to be outdone, guitarist Tim Hoey put on a show of his own. Unabashed, brazen or perhaps just wasted, he elicited a few incredulous laughs with his antics. Fighting his guitar, climbing on top of drum sets, leaping into a crowd of sweaty moshers - it was a spectacle to remember.

But wait, you might ask, this sounds great and all, but I don't know any of Cut Copy's songs so why would I see them live? Well, skeptical fan, that is the beauty of a Cut Copy show. The band may work in complex lines of synth and beats but the inherently simplistic lyrics has its advantages. They don't wax poetic, because that would be overkill. With layer after layer of lovingly-crafted instrumentals, Cut Copy prefer to keep the messages short and sweet. Their live show begs you to bask in the dazzling synth bursts, boasting a magnified sound and heightened energy. You'll be too busy busting out moves to worry about how familiar you are with the tracks. Mimic Whitford's actions, chant a few "ohhs" and "ahhs" and you are good to go.

The immense and active audience participation can also be accredited to Cut Copy's perceptive choice of set list. Though the show was a stop on Cut Copy's Zonoscope tour, they paid tribute to their previous albums by showcasing old favorites. Popular singles such as "Lights and Music" and "Hearts on Fire" inevitably evoked a frenzied response, setting the crowd jumping and screaming along. But the band also honored their rock roots ("Out There On the Ice") and humble origins ("Saturdays"). Of course, the exotic and action-packed Zonoscope received heavy play as well. "Are you going to give me your love?" pleaded Whitford on the truncated yet powerful "Sun God." After a visually and aurally engaging set along with two encores, it was safe to say that Cut Copy received an unanimous "yes."

Cynthia Kang is the lead music critic.

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