By Susan Gathman
Solana Beach’s Belly-Up Tavern is a venerable San Diego institution, showcasing talent from the obscure to the venerable. On any given night you might find British indie pop, an earnest singer-songwriter, Hawaiian standards, a Nineties one-hit-wonder band, obscure electronica, Gogol Bordello or even Kenny Rogers in this 600-seat venue. Ample stage-view seating (much of it with homework-compatible countertops!), a good-sized dance floor and remarkably friendly security – not to mention the surprisingly un-foul bathrooms and reasonable ticket prices – make the Belly Up a pleasant place to catch a show. Bonus points, too, for the walls festooned with gorgeous Skrojo posters and the enormous red-eyed shark hanging over the bar.
Recently I caught One More Time: A Daft Punk Tribute at the Belly Up. Opening act, DJ Man Cat – “half man, half cat, 100% awesome” – warmed up the crowd with a catchy, genre-bending wall of dance music, running the gamut from Gloria Estefan to Sir Mix-a-Lot by way of the Harlem Shake (which particular snippet elicited simultaneous groans and cheers).
The main act, Daft Punk’d, took the stage to cheers and Daft pyramids galore. These guys do Daft Punk better than Daft Punk themselves – in fact, since they stayed in robot-costume all evening, they may well have been Daft Punk themselves. Atop a giant Lite-Brite pyramid, the Tron-suited duo whipped out a seamless rendition of Daft Punk’d’s quirky synth-voiced Euro-techno, with a swirling, pulsating light show to match. An energetic, tallboy-drinking crowd, fists in the air, commandeered the dance floor for the hour-long set, which included favorites like “Around the World”, “Robot Rock”, “Digital Love”, “Harder Better Faster Stronger” and a heaping serving of Tron soundtrack. Experiencing Daft Punk’d “work it harder, make it better” may be as close as you can get to seeing the elusive French duo perform themselves.