Justice at WAMU Theatre, New York City, March 11, 2008

Well, I saw Justice back in October, at the CMJ festival in NYC.
And they’re back. And so is another review, with VIDEO! VIDEO! VIDEO!, as part of the “myspace music tour,” which signally failed to sell out Madison Square Garden and wound up ignominiously demoted to the WAMU Theatre instead.

Frenchmen Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay hail from Paris, France, where their success anchors the heavily self-promotional Ed Banger record label, known primarily for its particularly dirty, messy, over-the-top electrodisco dance aesthetic.

Satisfying their mainly youthful fans with MTV megahits “D.A.N.C.E.” and “We Are
Your Friends,” the duo put on a stupendous show, perched high atop stacks of gear festooned with flashing lights (most of which, i suspect, had no discernable purpose save decoration) and enthroned between perfectly matched twin banks of massive Marshall amps, their trademark glowing cross front and center.

Something so invidiously schticky-sweet about their show percolated thru the beats. The machine gun-speed loops, the hammering blips and bleeps, the high-frequency strobes and blazing kliegs. . . like eating crappy candy. I kept listening, even tho’ I knew I’d get a headache. Perhaps only video can communicate the true rock candy flavor:

Despite the sirens, pounding bass, a relentless four-on-the-floor disco rhythm, and crescendos that alternately call to mind airplane engines and helicopters, there’s a bit of hollow disconnect — they make no call for real justice; their cross resonates with no Catholic–or even faintly Christian–aesthetic. Justice is all about the mass DANCE and nothing else. Such purity may be refreshing, after all.

Incredibly enough, their hit “D.A.N.C.E” with its little-kid sing-song alphabet vocals, won Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards, so pissing off Kanye West that he went onstage to complain about it. Their show verges on the cartoonish at times–piling obvious hokey reference on reference, and throwing a LOT of heavy metal/rock allusions around, what with the giant amps, ambulance lights, and dry ice “smoke” and all. A good part of their schtick depends on the Metallica in the mix, along with the “Billie Jean.”

But sample spotting was not the main attraction, as insane bass lines at huge volume thudded thru everybody’s insides, pounding the audience into a joyful, sweaty, booty-shaking electrorockdisco climax again and again. The WAMU Theatre was formerly the Felt Forum, home to many a powerful boxing match in its day. Tuesday night, Gaspard and Xavier pounded the turntables as hard as any boxer ever pounded an opponent — and pretty much emerged victorious.

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