Compared to other genres, there’s not as much motivation to see an electronic artist live in concert. Unlike seeing the live instrumentation of a rock act or the exhilarating improvisation of a jam band, the mechanics of DJing aren’t nearly as flashy, and the digital elements of electronic music can be replicated precisely in a live setting.
Yet EDM artists are consistently among the biggest draws in all of live music. And it’s not just because of the lasers or party scene (or at least, not entirely due to it). In a live environment, best electronic artists are will remix, blend, borrow or otherwise change up their songs, giving them the same extemporaneous creativity of an expert jazz musician. As such, there are a number of live albums from electronic artists that equal or even surpass their studio albums.
Case in point: the 2016 Live album from Moderat. A collaboration between Modeselektor members Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary and Sascha Ring, aka Apparat, Moderat has been dropping moody yet catchy electronic music since their debut EP in 2002. Since then, the group has released three more albums of evocative electronic music, along with last year’s Live album, which is an excellent entry point to their catalog.
Moderat has a few North American shows in addition to their upcoming Coachella performance, including an April 19 show at Terminal 5 in New York City and a performance the following night at The Mayan in L.A. as part of Goldenvoice Presents April. Click here for tickets to that show and read on for our picks of five other incredible live electronic albums.
Daft Punk - Alive 2007
Alive 2007 isn’t just one of the greatest live electronic album ever released; it’s a document of one of the most important tours of all-time. You could make a convincing case that Daft Punk’s 2006/07 tour ushered in the EDM era in earnest and their pyramid DJ booth kickstarted an arms race among production designers for electronic artists. But even without the accompanying visual, Alive 2007 is an impressive testament to the Daft Punk’s music and creativity. Needless to say, we’re all hoping they’ll come alive again soon.
Portishead - Roseland NYC Live
If the best live albums cast an artist’s music in an exciting new light, then Roseland NYC Live from trip-hop pioneers Portishead has to be considered a classic. Performing alongside a large orchestra (according to Wikipedia, erroneously identified as the New York Philharmonic), the album doubles-down on the cinematic sound of the original songs while showcasing Beth Gibbon’s achingly gorgeous vocals.
Until the release of Woman late last year, Justice had as many live albums as studio records. A Cross The Universe captured the band shortly after their 2007 breakout, while Access All Arenas leans more on material from the underrated Audio, Video, Disco. Both records are notable for explicitly incorporating the hard rock that has always been an influence on the band, including Rage Against the Machine or Metallica.
Kraftwerk - Minimum-Maximum
It’s incredible that for a band as with as much longevity and influence as Kraftwerk, the group only has one live album. But what a (double) album it is. Recorded during their 2004 world tour, the Minimum-Maximum stitches together performances from all across the globe for an album that works as an excellent primer of their beguiling sound. Even now, nearly 50 years after the band’s first live performances, Kraftwerk's incredible 3D live show continues to push boundaries.
Jean-Michel Jarre - Jarre in China
With eight official live albums, we’re not even going to pretend to tell you which one is the best. But the most notable is arguably his 2005 concert film and album, Jarre in China. The concert was something of a tribute to his 1981 performance in which he became the first-ever Western artist to play in post-revolution China and it was broadcasted live to over 1 billion Chinese fans. Not only that, but Wikipedia says it was “ the first THX certified concert filmed in High Definition." American fans will finally get to see what over a billion Chinese fans already know when Jarre launches his first North American tour in May.