Empire of the Sun & Hellogoodbye at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, CA on July 13th, 2016
Once I heard that Empire of the Sun would be performing a few miles away from me, I knew it was imperative that I witness their stunning live show for myself. Opening for them were Huntington Beach locals Hellogoodbye. You may remember back in 2006 they released hit singles such as "Here In Your Arms" or "Oh, It Is Love". The band took the stage to a half-filled amphitheatre with people slowly filing in, seemingly tardy due to the wait for alcoholic beverages. The lead singer, Forrest Kline, chatted up the crowd, cracking jokes and plugging his parents' winery in the process. Towards the end of their set, Kline leaped off the stage and hurdled through the amphitheatre to have a more close up interaction with the crowd as he sang "Here In Your Arms".
Nearing the start of Empire of the Sun's set patrons rushed to their seats. Unbeknownst to them, the set was pushed back an additional 30 minutes due to the large influx of people attempting to get into the amphitheatre at the last minute. Soon, everyone in the venue would realize that an Empire of the Sun show is worth the brief delay. Hailing from Australia, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore began collaborating in 2007, releasing their first album the following year. Only until recently did the 8 year old single "Walking On a Dream" top the charts in the U.S., due to a Honda commercial. Empire of the Sun sounds like a mix between French dance artist Madeon, Phoenix, and fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue, while Steele's voice has similar qualities as Mark Foster of Foster the People.
The crowd was not only diverse in age, but also well versed in all of Steele & Littlemore's music. Their live performances involve smoke, colorful lighting, costume changes, props, and elaborate props. Its truly a feast for the eyes. There was not a singular moment that I took my eyes off the stage. Whether I was looking at the dancers intricate costumes or analyzing Steele's ornate headpieces, there was always something to admire. Steele's vocals almost seem too clear and pitch perfect to be live. After chatting with the couple next to me and hearing that they had seen Empire of the Sun perform 8 times, it was evident that a large quantity of the crowd were diehard fans. I was expecting a majority of the people in the amphitheatre to have attended for the sole purpose of singing along to "Alive" or "Walking on a Dream", but was blown away at the magnitude of dedicated fans. Empire of the Sun are not just a one hit wonder; they transcend what is expected from a live show with their theatrical approach to entertaining the masses. Although they haven't released new music 3 years, I'm anxiously awaiting to hear and see what they concoct for their next tour.
Words and Photos by Summer Dos Santos