If you saw Grindhouse you walked away liking one half better than the other. The double feature format made it impossible for theatergoers to avoid comparison. And though directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino worked together to pay tribute to all things b-, their respective efforts were vastly different. Rodriguez’ Planet Terror stayed true to the genre with its fast cuts and emphasis on more gore-gore-gore, while Tarantino’s Death Proof paced itself with highly choreographed and relatively minimal/masturbatory shots. While Death Proof was technically better because of its masterful building of suspense, Planet Terror was my favorite for sheer shits and giggles. Though Rodriguez may not have as esteemed a track record as Tarantino, he at least understood the basic principle of entertainment: give the people what they want. So, if they want Freddy Rodriguez on a pocket bike, Rose McGowan exploding over a wall, and Fergie losing her brains, then give them that!
Evidently Daft Punk also learned this lesson as documented in their two live albums Alive 1997 and Alive 2007. While 1997, essentially a 45-minute concert excerpt taken during their first peak of popularity, remains an underappreciated document of suspenseful mixing, its symphonic scope was difficult to grasp without committing, well, 45 minutes. In the ten years since, the production duo upped the sensorial drama of their performances and broke up the blends into digestible portions. Where 1997 patiently deconstructed and recombined mass pop hit "Da Funk" into a 16-minute smorgasbord, 2007 proves far more nimble and changes songs every 3 or 4 minutes. The new emphasis is on hits – and more of them – as elements of "Around the World" are worked into "Television Rules the Nation" to provide a sneak preview of the mid-set peak and "Aerodynamic" pushes the last third of "One More Time" into overdrive. The result is the MTV generation’s equivalent of a Pink Floyd laser light show on acid. In other words, the greatest show evar.
The imperative word here though is sensorial. Given that Alive 2007 only captures audio, it is an incomplete document. Though many of the mixes and blends translate well to the traditional album format – Alive 2007 actually more resembles Daft Club, the group’s 2003 album of remixes – the visual spectacle would have been a crucial addition. Not for naught, Alive 2007 is a welcome footnote to the group’s triumphant return. And a helluva lot easier to listen to than 1997.
Alive 2007 site: http://www.daft-musique.com/alive/