Treasure Island Music Festival: "Help! I'm drowning in shutter shades," yells club kid
So why do Justice make my snobby shit list? First, they overreach, in that tired rock-star DJ way: their stadium tour of this country was partly downscaled in the face of poor ticket sales. Plus, their poker-faced religious bombast act is too one-note to enjoy, and their first major US TV appearance, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, was a lip-synch of their welcome-worn-out-quickly hit "D.A.N.C.E." performed by Michael Jackson and Prince look-alikes — a cynical joke that turned the song's utopian lyrics ("Under the spotlight / Neither black nor white") into a racial minefield and completely underestimated the audience. I realize Justice gets a wry giggle from such overblown deflation — that's so French — but I can't afford enough flip-flops to go with all their tacky punch lines. Mean ol' rock stars.
Then, where is the love? Surely you've heard of "the love"? It's enshrined in the House Nation constitution, the underlying sentiment of dance music from the dawns of disco and house through the second Summer of Love exactly 20 years ago — and still running under the floors of many clubs today. I'm not a metaphysical person. One body's enough for me, thank you. Well, maybe three on the weekend. But even I can feel the spiritual dimension of dance, the slightly corn-tinted, otherworldly glow of souls united in motion. Love is the message.
Sure, Justice promised that "We are your friends / You'll never be alone again" with their friends Simian in the undisputed juggernaut mix of '06. But it came off as more snide than divine. Their shows get too hyper for full transcendence: more cool than heat, more status than soul. And Justice's horrifying misstep of a video for "Stress," which follows a group of youths as they rob and beat random Parisians (yes, I get that it boldly activated European fears of "the other," but, bleh), sets the banger aesthetic up as the nihilistic opposite of love, while desperately lunging for punk-rock street cred. Boring!
But maybe unblinking devotion to "the love" is an outdated, pre-Internet means of global dance floor connection and validation — and something those of us glowsticking it with Big Bird in the pre-Dubya years had the fortunate leisure to indulge in and mystify. Maybe now thrashing out with like minds to an aggro blizzard of metal samples and jittery synths — and looking good doing it — is the perfect escape pod: dance-floor justice, for these apocalyptic times. Maybe.