Air at the Santa Barbara Bowl

French Funk for Solstice

Air plays the Santa Barbara Bowl
Paul Wellman

Dressed in identical sparkling white jumpsuits, the members of Air took the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl looking like androgynous visitors from outer space by way of the French Riviera. Taking turns on a bewildering array of instruments, in particular a wide variety of electronic keyboards, they produced a thrilling set that made it abundantly clear why they have, along with compatriots Daft Punk, continued to rule the lounge-beat, downtempo world for more than two decades.

Their lengthy and satisfying set drew equally on material from their classic 1998 debut, Moon Safari, and Talkie Walkie, the 2004 release that contained “Alone in Kyoto,” a song they wrote for the Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation. Sparse vocals, sometimes altered by digital processing, served to offset the main attraction, which was the group’s meticulous and irresistible devotion to the groove. Highlights included “Kelly Watch the Stars,” “La Femme d’Argent,” and, of course, their biggest hit, “Sexy Boy.” But what was perhaps most impressive about this show was the consistency with which Air kept the beat going. It was a perfect end to another great Solstice Saturday in Santa Barbara.


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