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Halloween came a little early this year when the Australian electronic music duo, Empire of the Sun, took over the stage with its hypnotic, dance-inducing beats that were accompanied with Vegas-style costumes and special effects.
The crowd was a sea of costumes, some mimicking Luke Steele’s elaborate, ornamental, fanned-out headdress. There were minions, little red riding hoods, full dog costumes and togas all dancing to the music, illuminated by the huge red and orange lights that occasionally made their way over the crowd.
Basic Vacation started off the show with “You’re In My Head” from its self-titled EP. The indie-rock band played the majority of the songs on that album after indulging in an ’80s cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears.
The crowd became impatient as Empire of the Sun’s entourage took half an hour to set up the would-be dazzling effects, including a large LED screen, smoke machines, countless lights and a disco ball.
Finally, smoke blew across stage and the show began. Drummer Tony Mitolo appeared, decorated with a huge black feather mohawk. Four accompanying dancers crawled on stage with clear shells attached to their back, calling to mind hermit crabs and other creatures of the deep.
First and foremost performers, Empire of the Sun put on a show that did not disappoint. An indescribable mixture of Cirque du Soleil, Star Wars, Tron, mystic religion and underwater sea creatures breathed life and inspiration into the concert.
Energy surged through the crowd as Luke Steele sang the first lyrics to “DNA.” The audience swayed together as multiple crowd surfers made their way on top of the sea of people.
The synthesized beats pulsed through the venue as a hodgepodge of scenes including ice, meadows, brains, DNA strands, skulls, galaxies and eyes flashed on the LED screen. The four dancers wove their way across the stage in multicolored outfits with out-of-this-world accessories, including large flashing guitars and headpieces.
One of the most memorable moments of the show was a huge, imposing figure that came out of a cloud of smoke. The figure boasted a massive skull mask and two smoke machine guns that were pointed toward the crowd.
“Walking On A Dream” was the next song on the playlist; the whole crowd sang out “Is it real now?” together.
Empire of the Sun closed out the show with crowd favorite “Alive.” Steele left the stage via a trapdoor that lowered down as smoke spewed onto the stage, the duo disappearing from sight as quickly as it had appeared.
Civil engineering sophomore Graham Goodwin compared Empire of the Sun to famous ’80s musicians, enjoying the referential music and performance style.
“I don’t really go to this type of show very much, but it was very similar to David Bowie,” he said.
Aerospace engineering sophomore Nathan Kniffen enjoyed Empire of the Sun’s showmanship the most.
“It was unexpectedly theatrical,” Kniffen said. “I hadn’t heard of them before this, but they were really good. It was like one song, continuous. They are really progressive in their music.”
Recreation, parks and tourism administration senior Kaya Rader enjoyed the vibe of the music but also the Avila Beach Resort venue.
Boasting a wide open grass lawn with views of the ocean, it is hard to beat, she said.
“I love these Avila Beach concerts,” Rader said. “I come out no matter what the band is. I love being outside.”