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

In April 2013 word got out that Daft Punk planned to launch their album Random Access Memories from a regional australian town scantily anyone had heard of. Dubbed the “ cotton capital ” of Australia, the humble town ( population 2,000 ) with the evocative name of Wee Waa in the Narrabri shire of New South Wales was not much known as a dance music hub. The news program, which began with murmurs about Sony label reps scoping the area for locations, seemed just bizarre enough to be true. Daft Punk, after all, were never bang-up adherents of the traditional album rollout – and, with the reverence french duet announcing their split this week, it ’ mho worth taking ourselves back to their strangest one. In the long lead-up to Random Access Memories we were told to expect a passing from their three former albums. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the restrained Frenchmen inside the automaton helmets, had spared no expense in recreating the lush production values of 70s and 80s disco. such lavishness seemed burst for a parisian manner express, not a cold showground in regional Australia.

Daft Punk fans in costume Fans flew in from all over the worldly concern. Photograph: Shanna Whan/AFP/Getty Images Confirming the Wee Waa plans in an interview with the national youth broadcaster Triple J, Bangalter described the album as made for “ anywhere and everywhere ”. Random Access Memories would enter the world as partially of the Friday-night festivities at the 79th annual Wee Waa agricultural show in May, ahead business as usual on Saturday ( woodchopping competitions, flower arrange, diverseness read Wee Waa Has Talent, etc ). The duet besides liked Wee Waa ’ s proximity to the CSIRO Australia telescope, which some fans read as a clue to grander plans. ( In world, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo precisely like space, whether it ’ s the widescreen vistas of their avant-garde 2006 road movie Electroma, or the Apollo 17 deputation sampled in the Random Access Memories closer Contact. ) The 4,000 tickets released on the Narrabri Crossing Theatre web site sold out in a flash. Despite Sony ’ s emphatic message that Daft Punk would not be there, many still dared to dream. The couple ’ s australian enlistment in 2007, featuring the revered pyramid stagecoach show, was inactive seared in our memories. We had been told that this was the first clock time anyone in the world would hear the album – but, three days before the establish, Random Access Memories appeared on iTunes. Naysayers relished in the schadenfreude ( why drive seven hours to hear an album that ’ s already online ? ) but the dependable believers carried on anyhow. Wee Waa residents embraced the invasion with estimable temper. As a convoy of cars and trucks pulled into town, they were greeted by shop class windows adorned with Daft Punk signs and automaton cutouts. You could pick up “ punk rocker pies ” at the bakery, then visit the butch for “ random access rissoles ” and “ balmy pork sausages ”. Daft Punk nuts, some who had flown from overseas to be there, paraded the main street in elaborate costumes. Cardboard helmets in the style of the Random Access Memories cover effigy were everywhere. At the town public house, locals greeted the blow-ins with equal parts cheer and bewilderment.

A group of Daft Punk fans and locals in masks at the Wee Waa show ‘ Wee Waa residents embraced the invasion with good humor. ’ Photograph: Shanna Whan/AFP/Getty Images Friday at the Wee Waa showground was unusually laidback for a global album launch. Throughout the good afternoon, robots rugged up to cheer on the frank high jump and pet show. The then-Narrabri shire mayor, Conrad Bolton, circulated, greeting the onlookers. Between the blimp sizzle, gardening rival and carnival rides, people searched for clues that Daft Punk might be coming. Before the 8.30pm album plunge, the showground was cleared to make means for a circular light-up dancefloor under a giant disco ball. After a firework show by Father Anthony Koppman ’ s finely named pyrotechnics company Holy Smoke, the party began. There was no anticipated hologram and surely no Daft Punk – precisely Random Access Memories played loud, from Give Life Back to Music to Contact, in the middle of nowhere. The all-new Daft Punk tour that some expected to kick off at Wee Waa never came. The duet ’ s next live appearance, at the 2014 Grammys, featured album collaborators Nile Rodgers and Pharrell aboard special guest Stevie Wonder. It was the kind of flamboyant performance that could never translate on the road. Daft Punk ’ s subsequent production work, on Kanye West ’ s Yeezus in 2013 and the Weeknd ’ s Starboy in 2016, signalled that they ’ vitamin d moved on.

But the will-they-or-won ’ t-they rumours heard at Wee Waa persisted in the years to come, from every Coachella to the Weeknd ’ s Super Bowl performance this calendar month. Of course, Daft Punk ’ s refusal to take a victory lap is precisely what makes us want one so keenly. Their split this week after 28 years ( many spent not doing much publicly at all ) was the concluding shrug from a duet that never cared about the Super Bowl. humble as it was, there was something pure about the Wee Waa experiment. In the weeks that followed, Random Access Memories went through the inevitable hype-to-backlash cycle. Some missed the fist-pumping highs of past Daft Punk, others found the atavistic vibration derived function and a bit naff. That feel of disappointment was only compounded by the years waiting for a follow-up that never arrived. But under the disco musket ball at the 79th annual Wee Waa agricultural display, curios like Touch, featuring Paul Williams, made as much sense as pop hits Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance. A simple album playback turned into something that ’ south apparently never going to happen again : a thousands-strong dancefloor, brought in concert by Daft Punk .

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