The Last French Electronic Music Duo on Earth

by Ferdison Cayetano

Live, from the bombed-out husk of the Capitol dome, we’re Daft Punk.

An audience in the hundreds of thousands screams up at us in a bass drone almost too low to hear. Our teeth rattle.

Surrounding us is more equipment than we know what to do with. None of it works anymore. To Tom’s left (and he is always the one to the left) there is an unplugged microwave on top of a Behringer keyboard. He doesn’t touch it. He doesn’t dare.

We say the words—“We’re Daft Punk”—and the music starts to thrum in time with the lightshow. The lasers barely cut through the smog, but our audience does not mind. Millions of insectile little beads that aren’t quite eyes focus only on us.

The first song is “Human After All,” like it always is.

I bob my head. I feel the music. I turn a dial on a mixer that is connected to nothing.

By now, we have our movements down to a science. Which buttons to press and when. Look at each other. Look down. Raise a fist.

At the beginning of our residency, we experimented. Or they did, rather. The ones who disappeared first. Some of the others tried to sample in sounds from the motherships, from the floating cities, from all the new toys our conquerors brought with them. Not that anybody could tell their music from their speech from their white noise.

That “cheer” of theirs. Horrific, scrapes at your soul. But with these things it’s binary. Either they all cheer, or none of them do, and on that first night, during those terrible silences that followed brave new songs, that was when we understood. We understood what the others refused to understand.

We were no longer musicians.

We were museum relics, now, trophies in a zoo, frozen at the moment of humanity’s defeat. One pattern, one routine, down to the smallest detail, that was our future.

Our shows grew more rigid, less improvisatory. Live mixing became a thing of the past. The lineup grew smaller and smaller. Eventually we were the only ones left.

It’s the helmets, we think. Our saving grace. Having to make the exact same facial expressions, night after night? Hopeless. All those other performers were dead from the start.

These fucking helmets. Can’t even breathe in them.

The shows all blur together, and we’ve lost count. We don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve seen another human being, since we’ve heard anything that was not that dreadful chest-shaking vibration or our own damn music, and oh, my God, we used to be artists.

Yes, there are larger concerns, I know. State of the world and all. But you must remember this.

You must remember that we used to be artists.

Now we are merely Daft Punk, live, from the Capitol dome, and the helmets don’t come off anymore.

Ferdison Cayetano is a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary. Please offer him jobs, or at the very least follow him on Twitter @ferdwrites, where he follows back.
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