Back in my second year of attending Humber College, I would be in my residence room and for some reason I would start to hear Around The World being played over and over again. It wasn’t loud enough to come from the people living above or below me, and it seemed when I opened my window the music would be much clearer. I finally clued in that just across from my window was one of the music practice rooms and there was a full band playing Daft Punk tunes. It was still weird because this was a school that had a Jazz program that is well renowned and they were playing dance music. I mentioned this casually to one of my friends, who was a musician, and he told me that Humber had a fantastic Daft Punk cover band and they were always worth checking out.
I accidentally arrived at the venue 90-minutes early, so I had time to hang out. As I was chatting to the bartender I realized I had been in The Adelaide Hall before, it turns out, up until last summer, it was the former London Taphouse, now with a stage in the middle of the lower level where the dance floor was. This made a much nicer live venue than club, as there are upper levels that you can look over the square balcony and see the stage. The band hit the stage around 11:30 and pummeled their way through a lengthy set that rocked the house down!
The eight-piece band for the most part plays the music as recorded by the French duo, except they don’t loop anything. All the notes are played live and uncut. Even the singing is all done live, switching between clean vocals and ones that require a vocoder to warp and distort the lyrics. The band came out swinging by playing several songs off of Random Access Memories, this year’s Album of the Year according to The Grammys (and rightfully so). They played four straight songs off of RAM including Give Life Back To Music and Lose Yourself To Dance.
To create some of the other worldly sounds that Daft Punk has on their albums James Ervin the trumpet player, also plays what looks like an electronic clarinet, an instrument I learned is called an Electric Wind Instrument. This works like a regular clarinet, except like a synth you can control what sound you want to come out. Joanna Mohammed performed the lead vocals on most of the songs, and her voice was incredibly powerful as was evident on songs like Get Lucky. La-Nai Gabriel who also played the keyboards provided the vocoder infused vocals, which made Doin’ it Right sound just like it does on the album.
Most cover or tribute bands can sound just like the original but still lack a certain energy or vibe. Daft Punk Tribute grabbed the densely packed venue by the necks and shoved the most danceable grooves down their throats. You had no choice but to throw your whole body into the performance, or as some would say to lose yourself to dance. While seeing clips of Daft Punk live looks and sounds amazing, there is no substitute for real instruments being played. Hearing Mike Corrillo banging out the drum beats on a kit kept the dancing going all night long.
If you have a chance to see Daft Punk Tribute, see them. They are going on a mini tour of eastern United States and I’m sure there will be plenty of hometown shows in the future.