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

In April 2013 phrase acquired out that Daft Punk deliberate to launch their album Random Entry Reminiscences 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 identify of Wee Waa in the Narrabri shire of New South Wales was not a lot referred to as a dance music hub. The information, which started with murmurs about Sony label reps scoping the space for areas, appeared simply weird sufficient to be true. Daft Punk, after all, had been by no means nice adherents of the conventional album rollout – and, with the revered French duo asserting their cut up this week, it’s price taking ourselves again to their strangest one.

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

Daft Punk fans in costume
Followers flew in from all over 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 all over the place”. Random Entry Reminiscences would enter the world as half of the Friday-night festivities at the 79th annual Wee Waa agricultural present in Could, earlier than business as usual on Saturday (woodchopping competitions, flower arranging, selection present Wee Waa Has Expertise, and so forth). The duo additionally preferred 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 house, whether or not it’s the widescreen vistas of their avant-garde 2006 highway film Electroma, or the Apollo 17 mission sampled in the Random Entry Reminiscences 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 first time anybody in the world would hear the album – however, three days earlier than the launch, Random Entry Reminiscences appeared on iTunes. Naysayers relished in the schadenfreude (why drive seven hours to hear 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” at 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 fundamental avenue in elaborate costumes. Cardboard helmets in the fashion of the Random Entry Reminiscences cowl picture had been all over the place. At 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 at the Wee Waa showground was remarkably laidback for a world album launch. All through the afternoon, robots rugged up to cheer on the canine excessive leap 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 may be coming.

Earlier than the 8.30pm album launch, the showground was cleared to make approach for a round light-up dancefloor below a large 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 Reminiscences performed loud, from Give Life Again to Music to Contact, in the center 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, at the 2014 Grammys, featured album collaborators Nile Rodgers and Pharrell alongside particular visitor Stevie Marvel. It was the form of splashy efficiency that would by no means translate on the highway. 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 in the years to come, from each Coachella to the Weeknd’s Tremendous Bowl efficiency this month. After all, Daft Punk’s refusal to take a victory lap is exactly what makes us need one so keenly. Their cut up this week after 28 years (many spent not doing a lot publicly at all) was the last shrug from a duo that by no means cared about the Tremendous Bowl.

Humble because it was, there was one thing pure about the Wee Waa experiment. In the weeks that adopted, Random Entry Reminiscences went by means of 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 got here.

However below the disco ball at 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 become 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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