As the sun continues to descend behind buildings and temperatures cool in Chicago, the Black Keys turn in an effort that confirms why they've landed a slot on one of the big stages. In the city that's the home of the blues, the guitar-and-drums duo fittingly delivers a dirty, swampy and skuzzy set that wouldn't be out of place in a gritty South Side blues club. However improbable, these two white dudes from Akron, Ohio, have Mississippi Delta blood running through their veins. Guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach wears a metal slide over his left pinky finger and sings out of the side of his mouth, scribbling licks and bending strings with modest flair. Notes dangle and solos moan. "I'm inviting you all over to my house in Akron if you want to come," he announces, diving into the fuzz-rock of "Set You Free." He soon rescinds the offer, but makes up for any false hopes with a scorching "Your Touch."
After Perry Farrell's Satellite Party thuds through a stock cover of Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says," James Murphy lays down a burbling blend of funk, disco, rock and dance escapism with LCD Soundsystem. Slaves to the groove, the group rides an armada of percussion -- drums, tambourines, blocks, cymbals, piano keys and especially cowbells -- to stoke the fire. Murphy resembles a computer geek on leave from his cubicle life, and he wants to celebrate. He seethes with sarcastic revenge ("North American Scum"), gets misty-eyed ("All My Friends") and gives useful advice, informing the audience that "if you don't see any girls around you, you're dancing wrong." But it's "Time to Get Away" that embodies LCD Soundsystem's fun-first attitude, and Murphy knows it, looking out over the sea of bobbing heads in front of him.
Perched atop a raised pyramid-shaped console and backed by phenomenal visuals, Daft Punk capitalize on the darkness of night. Their faces concealed under shiny metal blast-shield masks, which complement their sleek black space suits, the French electronic duo dazzles with techno beats, computerized blips, throbbing instrumentals and synthesized vocals. The rave is on, and their performance thrills. Catch-phrase words flash on a giant screen. Explosions of color shoot across triangular lighting rigs. Spotlights and lasers activate on cue. The Chicago skyline glows in the distance. The scene brings the cover of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon to life. Meanwhile, "Television Rules the Nation" and "Robot Rock" get people grinding, leaping and twirling. Since the sounds are largely programmed and their hands obscured, Daft Punk could be checking their e-mail from where they stand. Yep, it's unlikely, but who cares if they are Googling? The future is here, and it's loud, vibrant, and not surprisingly, digital.
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