Sunday, February 28, 2021

When Daft Punk went to Wee Waa: an ode to the strangest album launch of all time | Daft Punk

In April 2013 phrase received out that Daft Punk deliberate to launch their album Random Entry Recollections from a regional Australian city barely anybody had heard of.

Dubbed the “cotton capital” of Australia, the small city (inhabitants 2,000) with the evocative title of Wee Waa within the Narrabri shire of New South Wales was not a lot often called a dance music hub. The information, which started with murmurs about Sony label reps scoping the world for places, appeared simply weird sufficient to be true. Daft Punk, in any case, had been by no means nice adherents of the normal album rollout – and, with the revered French duo saying their break up this week, it’s price taking ourselves again to their strangest one.

Within the lengthy lead-up to Random Entry Recollections we had been informed to anticipate a departure from their three earlier albums. Thomas Bangalter and Man-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the reticent Frenchmen contained in the robotic helmets, had spared no expense in recreating the luxurious manufacturing values of 70s and 80s disco. Such luxurious appeared match for a Parisian style present, not a dusty showground in regional Australia.

Daft Punk fans in costume
Followers flew in from everywhere in the world. {Photograph}: Shanna Whan/AFP/Getty Photos

Confirming the Wee Waa plans in an interview with the nationwide youth broadcaster Triple J, Bangalter described the album as made for “wherever and in every single place”. Random Entry Recollections would enter the world as a part of the Friday-night festivities on the 79th annual Wee Waa agricultural present in Might, earlier than enterprise as normal on Saturday (woodchopping competitions, flower arranging, selection present Wee Waa Has Expertise, and so forth). The duo additionally appreciated Wee Waa’s proximity to the CSIRO Australia telescope, which some followers learn as a clue to grander plans. (In actuality, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo identical to area, whether or not it’s the widescreen vistas of their avant-garde 2006 street film Electroma, or the Apollo 17 mission sampled within the Random Entry Recollections nearer Contact.)

The 4,000 tickets launched on the Narrabri Crossing Theatre web site offered out in a flash. Regardless of Sony’s emphatic message that Daft Punk would not be there, many nonetheless dared to dream. The duo’s Australian tour in 2007, that includes the revered pyramid stage present, was nonetheless seared in our reminiscences.

We had been informed that this was the primary time anybody on this planet would hear the album – however, three days earlier than the launch, Random Entry Recollections appeared on iTunes. Naysayers relished within the schadenfreude (why drive seven hours to listen to an album that’s already on-line?) however the true believers carried on anyway.

Wee Waa residents embraced the invasion with good humour. As a convoy of vehicles and vehicles pulled into city, they had been greeted by store home windows adorned with Daft Punk indicators and robotic cutouts. You possibly can choose up “punk pies” on the bakery, then go to the butcher for “random entry rissoles” and “daft pork sausages”. Daft Punk nuts, some who had flown from abroad to be there, paraded the principle avenue in elaborate costumes. Cardboard helmets within the model of the Random Entry Recollections cowl picture had been in every single place. On the city pub, locals greeted the blow-ins with equal elements cheer and bemusement.

A group of Daft Punk fans and locals in masks at the Wee Waa show
‘Wee Waa residents embraced the invasion with good humour.’ {Photograph}: Shanna Whan/AFP/Getty Photos

Friday on the Wee Waa showground was remarkably laidback for a worldwide album launch. All through the afternoon, robots rugged as much as cheer on the canine excessive soar and pet present. The then-Narrabri shire mayor, Conrad Bolton, circulated, greeting the onlookers. Between the sausage sizzle, horticulture competitors and carnival rides, individuals looked for clues that Daft Punk is perhaps coming.

Earlier than the 8.30pm album launch, the showground was cleared to make manner for a round light-up dancefloor underneath an enormous disco ball. After a fireworks present by Father Anthony Koppman’s exquisitely named pyrotechnics firm Holy Smoke, the celebration started. There was no hoped-for hologram and positively no Daft Punk – simply Random Entry Recollections performed loud, from Give Life Again to Music to Contact, in the midst of nowhere.

The all-new Daft Punk tour that some anticipated to kick off at Wee Waa by no means got here. The duo’s subsequent reside look, on the 2014 Grammys, featured album collaborators Nile Rodgers and Pharrell alongside particular visitor Stevie Surprise. It was the type of splashy efficiency that might by no means translate on the street. Daft Punk’s subsequent manufacturing work, on Kanye West’s Yeezus in 2013 and the Weeknd’s Starboy in 2016, signalled that they’d moved on.

However the will-they-or-won’t-they rumours heard at Wee Waa continued within the years to return, from each Coachella to the Weeknd’s Tremendous Bowl efficiency this month. In fact, Daft Punk’s refusal to take a victory lap is exactly what makes us need one so keenly. Their break up this week after 28 years (many spent not doing a lot publicly in any respect) was the ultimate shrug from a duo that by no means cared concerning the Tremendous Bowl.

Humble because it was, there was one thing pure concerning the Wee Waa experiment. Within the weeks that adopted, Random Entry Recollections went by the inevitable hype-to-backlash cycle. Some missed the fist-pumping highs of previous Daft Punk, others discovered the throwback vibe spinoff and a bit naff. That feeling of letdown was solely compounded by the years ready for a follow-up that by no means arrived.

However underneath the disco ball on the 79th annual Wee Waa agricultural present, curios like Contact, that includes Paul Williams, made as a lot sense as pop hits Get Fortunate and Lose Your self to Dance. A easy album playback became one thing that’s apparently by no means going to occur once more: a thousands-strong dancefloor, introduced collectively by Daft Punk.

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