French electronic duo Daft Punk called it quits Monday after 28 years, leaving behind an incredible legacy: An album of the year Grammy winner in “Random Access Memories”; influential hits like “One More Time” and “Get Lucky”; and blockbuster collaborations with Kanye West (“Stronger”) and The Weeknd (“Starboy,” “I Feel It Coming”).
And with the duo’s “Alive” tour that kicked off at Coachella in 2006, Daft Punk turned live EDM into a senses-obliterating spectacle that transformed the genre into a festival-dominating juggernaut.
But about a decade before Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter donned robot suits and jammed from an LED pyramid, they were at the scrappy (and muddy) Even Furthur Festival in Wisconsin.
Presented by Milwaukee-based rave promoter Drop Bass Network, it took place at the Eagle Cave Resort and Campground near Blue River in Grant County, over Memorial Day weekend in 1996, reports Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network. It’s immortalized as Daft Punk’s first major U.S. show.
As an oral history of the set published by Spin magazine explains, co-promoter Woody McBride became familiar with Daft Punk when the duo opened for him at the Rex Club in Paris in 1995.
The duo’s debut album “Homework” wouldn’t come out until 1997, but its lead single “Da Funk” was already making waves among electronic music fans in the Midwest when it ended up on a mixtape, “New School Fusion Vol. 2,” that was making the rounds in 1995.
The Even Furthur set was different from the game-changing “Alive” setup. Bangalter and de Homem-Christo didn’t don the robot suits. They didn’t even play on an elevated stage, performing instead on the same level as fans inside a tent, with a modest laser light show and solid sound system, according to Spin.
But it left an indelible mark on the people who were there — including Daft Punk.
“We were 20-year-old kids, and I thought it was really one of the best festivals we’d done,” De Homem-Christo said in a 2007 interview. “It wasn’t huge, but it was in the woods, in nature, really outside the city. Techno music was known in Chicago and Detroit, but it wasn’t as big as it is now. It felt like a special moment; we have great memories of it. Even now, people go on YouTube to get videos from that night — it was true energy.”
You can check out a YouTube video of the set yourself below, and there’s also a high-fidelity audio mix on SoundCloud.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.