Live Review: L'Imperatrice

The Fonda Theatre  Hollywood, CA

Contact: Alison Pittaro, Microqlima Records, [email protected]

Web: l-imperatrice.cool

Players: Flore Benguigui, vocals; Charles de Boisseguin, synthesizer; Hagni Gwon,
synthesizer; Achille Trocellier, guitar; David Gaugué, bass; Tom Daveau, drums

Material: After a two-year postponement due to lockdown, Parisienne disco-pop phenomenon L’Imperatrice played to a packed house of smiling faces at The Fonda on the last night of their U.S. tour, following their Coachella appearance. Sharing songs from their Matahari (2019) and Tako Tsubo (2021) albums, as well as a handful of their hit singles (“Sonate Pacifique,” “Peur des filles,” and “Vanille Fraise”), they kept the crowd booty-shaking all night. With glow-in-the-dark beach balls floating around, and homemade signs to salute the band, the contagious energy was impossible to ignore.

Musicianship: Sprinkled in with jazzy decoration, the ABBA/Aqua reminiscent stylings are supported by a killer band of seasoned musicians. Show opener, “Off To The Side,” shared a heavy disco backbeat, fantastic guitar and synthesizer rhythms, and introduced the band’s infectious danceability. “Hématome” unveiled a deeper funk and sexy grind synth and bass breakdown. “La Lune” continued the heavy dance feel and “Fou” showcased fabulous bass lines and driving guitar—with a great use of space, clapping sections and tight cutoffs. “Matahari” began with creepy synth feel, moving to tight shots, a snapping breakdown, and into a straight-ahead disco.

Performance: Standing on stage with the venue lights down and heart pendant lights flashing in unison on their chests, the band performed for a diverse crowd (all ages, races and persuasions), who partied happily together and cheered each other’s dancing. There was palpable love (and relief!) in the air. Daft Punk nod, “Submarine,” was a rave-edged anthem with harmonized reverb vocals. This is a sextet of badass musicians who clearly love what they do and know how to create a vibe.

Summary: While being fun and party-forward, L’Imperatrice leave no doubt of their musical ability with their phenomenal use of space accentuating words and rhythms, unique outro breakdowns of chorus and kickdrum, clapping audience and rhythm section breaks, growling bass lines over scat, delicious key change transitions, and long silences before precise returns to the chorus. The tight, talented pop/nu-disco/electronic band brings a fantastic, fun-loving, energizing break from your average show. L’Imperatrice’s ability to summon positive, energetic, house-party love is a brilliant, unexpected surprise.

Photo by Nick Hernandez