Anyone who’s been keeping up with us knows that we absolutely worship Justice. The Disco/Electro Frenchies have been in our lives for nearly 15 years at this point – from our down and dirty electro days to our (semi-) refined modern times. Safe to say, we were stoked and piqued this year when we heard the boys were releasing a Space Opera of all things. Well, the time finally came and we’ve now fully absorbed everything Iris had to offer and has to forebode. Did it live up to the hype? You bet your cigarette burning disco dancing ass it did.
Iris is a new beast. It’s essentially a concert film without the concert; Xavier and Gaspard perform their live show that they’ve been touring on for the last two years in an empty warehouse sans any trace of a crowd. The film opens with a 30 minute introductory video cut together with interviews with the guys, their manager (Busy P) and the crew who designed their stage set up. It’s a pretty informative half-hour that delves into the inspiration behind the anatomy of the stage and why they wanted to make this film in the first place. They talk about how they’ve always wanted to film one of their live shows however they could never get the camera angles and presentation quite right to capture their energy. They justify the absence of a crowd simply by saying “it’s played out” to do so.
The performance itself was magical. For the better part of an hour, the guys were supporting characters to the music and spectacle placed front and center. Lighting effects illuminate their on stage tinkering from time to time, but for the most part the stage and “house” are the highlighted (and strobe-lighted) mainstays. Justice has always been hesitant to include actual visuals as the backdrop to the live performances and Iris was no different. Instead of using an LED screen with videos playing in the background they simply had what seemed like an endless amount of solid lighting dancing and pulsing to each kick drum and keystroke. This fairly simple presentation method was super effective in keeping the music as the highlight of the performance. To fill the void of where the crowd would be, a semi-reflective floor played a crucial role in expounding the Space concept of the ensuing Opera. Every so often they would interweave clips of digitally rendered space imagery to further drive home the space opera of it all. The film really wears Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as an influence on its sleeve.
In sum, we had a fantastic time and a welcome departure from going to a cinema to see the standard summer blockbuster. Justice once again proved that a little innovation goes a long way and the bar has been raised for future live-virtual performances of this kind. We can only imagine what their creative minds and team will come up with once NextGen VR and AR become ubiquitous; imagine Justice playing live in your bedroom if your bedroom was an autopilot Tempur-Pedic Tesla with Funktion-One sound and a 360 degree field-of-view floating through the vastness of space. We’re not religious, but leave it to Justice to have us worshipping at the foot of a cross just the same.