Empire of the Sun Burns Like A Supernova At Aragon

Empire of the Sun landed at the Aragon Ballroom last night, delivering no shortage of intergalactic electro-pop theatrics. Touring in support of their sophomore LP, Ice on the Dune, the Aussie act cruised through most of the album. They set the stage for a cinematic spectacle opening with “Lux” amid moody lighting and rising fog as otherworldly lycra-clad dancers saluted the appearance of Emperor Steele and one of his many metallic headdresses.

Cosmic Chemistry

A crowd ranging from chemistry enthusiasts in white eye makeup to little kids sang along to escapist electro dazzlers like “DNA” and “Concert Pitch.” Luke Steele anchored the show with backing drums and guitar despite the notable absence of band mate Nick Littlemore, who often opts out touring. With a cosmic backstory and plenty of bedazzled costume changes Steele fashions his act akin to Ziggy Stardust or Prince, but is a showman in his own right. Even against an LED panel backdrop and a spectacularly saturated light show the room was locked on Steele. He addressed the crowd, greeting their outstretched hands at ground level several times throughout the hour and a half long set.

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Here on Earth

Whirling dervish dancers with names like “Lightning” never let up, rapidly changing costumes and donning face masks, feathers, and pink prop guitars while contorting with mind-bending moves. A confetti shower and the brief appearance of a giant skull completed the sensory extravaganza. Some songs like “Swordfish Hotkiss Night” were treated to too much reverb and Steele’s guitar-smashing finale felt contrived, but ultimately Empire of the Sun fans received more than their money’s worth of a show. Older favorites like “Walking On A Dream” and “We are the People” were worked in before the one-song encore of “Alive.” Once the lights came up, the sweat-drenched crowd was back on Earth but for a few hours the Emperor had complete command.

Reviewed for Chicagoist.

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