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Justice pump up the volume at Palladium Ballroom

Posted 12:58am on Thursday, Nov. 01, 2012

It was appropriate that the French electro duo Justice came to town on Halloween night.

On their most recent album, Audio Video Disco, the pair traded in their glitchy funk, damaged grooves, and amped-up house music for a little heavy metal and ‘70s rock. It’s a sonic costume that, on disc, doesn’t quite fit. But live at the Palladium Wednesday night -- in front of a packed, party-hearty crowd some of whose costumes, ranging from Native American to trampy schoolgirl, may have been equally ill-advised -- it somehow came together.

At their best during the 85-minute set, Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay brought to mind the Chemical Brothers at their peak in the ‘90s. That was another electronic twosome that paired club grooves with block rockin’, headbangin’ beats. That the Brothers were better at it didn’t make most of Wednesday's performance any less enjoyable.

Still, the highlights were the tracks from Justice’s lauded debut, “Cross.” Opening the set with “The Star-Spangled Banner” -- since the guys are now in rock mode, this was no doubt a nod to Jimi Hendrix famous version -- they went right into the slamming “Genesis,” the opening track on “Cross.” The song may have been used to shill Escalades in a TV commercial a few years back but that hasn’t sapped its dance-inducing power. And, of course, the club hit “D.A.N.C.E.” got everyone screaming.

The evening’s retro theme wasn’t just restricted to the headliners. The back-in-the-day music played over the PA during the break included ELO, Led Zeppelin, and Todd Rundgren and opener Busy P (French producer/remixer/manager Pedro Winter) surfed through a 90-minute DJ set on a wave of old New Order, Radiohead, Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two,” and “Axel F” (the theme from “Beverly Hills Cop”).

Once Justice’s flirtation with hard rock passes, it will be fascinating to see what the next stylistic change will be. The group that was the obvious heir to such groundbreaking French dance acts as Daft Punk and Cassius can’t afford to stay in their current disguise too long. Next Halloween will be here before you know it.

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