Empire of the Sun shines bright in the spotlight

Empire of the Sun performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on Oct. 22.

Empire of the Sun performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on Oct. 22.

As a group better known through song recognition rather than by name, Empire of the Sun (EOTS) had a lot at stake before taking to the stage at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver Oct. 22. With their sophomore album, Ice on the Dune, released this past June and getting far less air play than their debut album, it was essential for the Australian electro synthpop duo to leave it all on the stage in order to add some kind of creditability to their underexposed name.

The night was off to a slow start as curtains rose for fellow Australian band, Alpine. As the only supporting act for EOTS, it was disheartening to have to witness the contrived performance that ensued. This was not the fault of the performers. Despite having gained credibility from playing the prestigious SXSW Festival in 2012 & 2013, and completing their own headlining tour in the U.S., it was apparent that the crowd had turned up for the evening could not give a damn. Spectators remained polite, giving complimentary applause at the end of each song, but the enthusiasm was severely lacking. In a venue with the capacity just shy of 2,300, each person in attendance stuck out like a sore thumb: there were dismal 300 on hand at best.

While the two female lead vocalists for the indie pop band of six bounded and danced across the stage, the disconnect between bandmates and patrons prevailed as most concertgoers remained stuck in their seats through the painful 30-something-minute set.

The houselights coming up has never been such a welcoming sight. At the signal that the torment was over, most in attendance filed out of the theatre, likely making their way to the bar to eagerly forget what had just happened. And as stage handlers were quick to assemble additional various platforms and scaffolds, in the blink of an eye, ticket holders were flocking to their seats in hordes. Finally, the long overdue buzz was starting to take place.

Luke Steele and supporting crew perform at the Orpheum during the Empire of the Sun concert in Vancouver on Oct. 22.

Luke Steele and supporting crew perform at the Orpheum during the Empire of the Sun concert in Vancouver on Oct. 22.

The moment that EOTS took to the stage, nearly every seat in the Orpheum was filled with an attentive audience member, some having donned their best makeup and attire to resemble the group. While it would soon be realized that only one half of EOTS would be present for the evening, the Vegas-esque spectacle was enough to keep anyone distracted from that fact. Complete with the accompaniment of a supporting guitar player, percussionist and four dancers, frontman Luke Steele arose from a platform at the back of the stage just as the drums had reached the peak of their intensity.

With the house on its feet, concert-goers were not too shy to sing along and bop gleefully as EOTS put on a show that can only be described as the illegitimate love child of Elton John and David Bowie. With the audience eating every morsel out of his hands, Steele was everything you want in a performer: flashy, energetic and engaging. He would even leap off the stage on occasion to stride through the audience for some impromptu karaoke. What Steele lacked vocally on more difficult notes, he generously compensated with showmanship.

It was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the production of the show. Nearly every song presented a wardrobe change for the dancers, returning to the stage with futuristic spacey garments, each more outlandish than the last. There was a massive LED screen mounted at the back playing eye-catching visuals matched to whatever song was playing. The set list was also meticulously tailored to ensure emotional captivation. Whether it was tapping into ecstatic nostalgia with tracks like Walking on a Dream or bringing the audience to a romantic lull with slower tracks like I’ll Be Around, each song had the intended purpose of keeping the audience on a roller coaster of infectious euphoria.

The night came to an end with the final release from confetti cannons and smoke machines before everyone gathered at the front of the stage to take a bow. As they left the stage to a standing ovation, and with concert-goers marvelling in their performance, the houselights were an unwelcome mark to the end of a night to be remembered.

Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream

Empire of the Sun – I’ll Be Around

Kait Huziak

Meet Kait! She is trapped in a student's body as a third year Journalism student and she perpetually finds herself referring to third person context when it comes to bios. When Kait isn't menacing the streets of Vancouver, hopping from show to show, you can also find her scouring the web for sources of inspiration to facilitate her obsessive compulsive baking needs.

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