Daft Punk Disbands: Duo Set Design Standards

Daft Punk has broken up as a duo, but their designs remain benchmarks, especially at Coachella 2006. In retrospect, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter were much more than elusive French robots, anonymous behind their high-tech heads. Live Design covered the performance at the time, One More Time With Daft Punk, with lighting by Martin Philips and video by XL Video (project manager Phil Mercer).

In August 2010, Live Design pegged their acclaimed Alive tour as one of the best concert designs of all time: Daft Punk Alive (2006-07) - Top Concert Tour Design: "

...visually, you can’t fight the slick style of Martin Phillips’ set and lighting design. The sci-fi feel of it all—from the video-mapped techno-pyramid on which the two musicians performed to the retro wireframe and old-school video game-style graphics, to the more photorealistic video content—this tour clearly pleased crowds. Reviewing Daft Punk’s appearance at a festival in Hyde Park using this stage setup, The Times noted, “For their imperious grand finale, Daft Punk perched atop a shimmering sci-fi pyramid of pulsing lights in their shiny robot helmets, like camp Darth Vaders piloting their very own disco Death Star.” Wicked cool."

In 2016, The LA Weekly also included Daft Punk in their 20 Best Coachella Sets Of All Time, and in 2006, they noted:

“Whether into electronic music or not, Coachella-goers who missed this set are still kicking themselves. Moving way beyond the standard laser-packed, confetti-blasting DJ set at the Sahara tent, Daft Punk’s 2006 Coachella performance was the industry-wide wake-up call that established the current state of EDM as the most innovative and progressive musical movement in the United States today.

As night fell, a massive crowd — rumored to be as many as 40,000 — swarmed the overflowing Sahara tent. A thick sense of mystery filled the nighttime air, as nobody knew what to expect from the elusive French robots, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. Then, out of nowhere, it appeared: a mammoth LED pyramid, towering over thousands of soon-to-be-converted lifelong fans.

Nobody had seen this amount of LED; nobody had experienced this level of evolved production. As soon as the call of the distorted robot voice blasted through the speaker walls, there was no looking back. Leaning exclusively on their original material, Daft Punk’s set consisted of never-before-heard, on-the-fly edits and remixes, creating new, mutated songs cut out of their classics and deeper tracks. The music alone challenged the status quo at the time of a DJ culture heavily reliant on playing other artists’ works.

This was the paradigm shift that finally placed electronic music as a worthy competitor against its big brothers, rock and rap. After Daft Punk, every active artist within electronic music — and arguably even beyond it — had to rethink their approach to live performance.

Anyone holding their breath for the return of the pyramid should give up all hope. Daft Punk are not ones to repeat themselves, and this performance is one that could never be recreated.”

Here's a look at Daft Punk's August 2007 Grant Park concert in Chicago, part of their Alive tour:

 

 

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