Justice could have played in just about any major city on earth for New Year’s Eve; their performances pull full amphitheaters of fans in Paris, London and New York. They’ve been asked to headline some of the biggest music festivals in existence. This year, the French duo chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and the night before, with a small audience at the Belly Up Aspen.
It’s hard to compare a Justice show to any other life performance in current rotation. Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay’s music is a conglomeration of disco and rock, electro and pop, with a steady foundation of gospel. Some of their most popular songs include a full choir singing simple yet powerful lines that an audience often repeats. The big group vocals suggest singalongs are the natural course when attending a Justice performance.
As the cliche goes, Justice is unlike any of their contemporary kin or musical predecessors. Although they’d typically be considered electronic, they differ so much from artists like Diplo (who will be playing at the Belly Up on Saturday), it is difficult to fit them under the same umbrella. Augé has said that electronic music “is just a process of using machines and computers to make music” and therefore is a bit meaningless when categorizing modern musicians.
Despite the fact that their primary instruments have buttons instead of strings, in a way, Justice resembles a classic rock band more than modern electro. Their most loved tunes are dominated by power chords and vocal anthems. Live shows are powerful and don’t follow any of the standard regimens for a live DJ performance. Augé and de Rosnay are the primary focus in their shows, rather than the equipment and lasers, although the light show they’ve created is nothing to be ignored. Justice's light engineer, Vincent Lerisson, is even referred to as the third member of their live band.
Even the cross logo that Justice has become so well associated with was born from rock ’n’ roll. The two Parisians started off separately as graphic designers and were fond of heavy metal and rock graphics. After realizing the “t” fell in the center of their group’s name, the cross was set as their first album cover. Whether it was coincidence or planned, the cross became slightly synonymous with their gospel style. De Rosnay said that “the way we make our tracks is to have this kind of religious feeling happening – in the way that we gather people.”
The same can be said for any live performance that brings massive amounts of people together for one purpose. Many of the audience members practically worship whatever group they’ve come to see. Justice takes this a step further.
Discussing their recent album, de Rosnay said, “‘Woman’ came from the idea of choir music, but we wanted to create a futuristic gospel record. Building on the base that we created with the two previous albums, we wanted to turn gospel sideways and do a lot of new, interesting things. We like the power that’s created when you have 20 people singing the same line, as well as the sense of anonymity.”
If an unprecedented electro-rock-gospel performance sounds like an ideal way to ring in the New Year, Justice will be performing at 10 p.m. at the Belly Up for their Masquerade Ball, wit masks encouraged, of course. The duo will also play on Sunday, Dec. 30, slightly earlier and sans masks.