Live: Justice at Webster Hall/Across the Universe Debut


2007’s Across the Universe tour. Photo by Tricia Romano.

Webster Hall
October 30

Of those assembled last night to celebrate the French DJ-duo Justice’s forthcoming CD/DVD Across the Universe, my guess is half caught colds on the way to a taxi. Tank tops and leotards looked and smelled like sweat rags three songs into Xavier and Gaspard’s set, as the two toasted the completion of their new rock documentary.

Filmed over a three-week trip through North America, Across the Universe looks as intimate as a sex tape, night vision and all. Directors So-Me (D.A.N.C.E. and DNVD) and Romain Gavras (Stress) splice footage from handheld cameras with live, titty-bared concert shots into a 90-minute whirlwind music video. Throughout, the documentary marvels at the sea-to-shining-sea vastness of North America—face-plants in Montreal snow, Detroit’s 8 Mile, beachfront in California—and at the diverse range of American characters: snaggle-toothed street rappers, bearded ladies made up in pastel eye shadow (that was a dude), impressionable blondes from Kansas.

The scope of the film’s scenes and happenings—the claustrophobic sleeping spaces of the tour bus, the baritone gospel singing bus driver, the bustin’ of bottles over the heads of suspect fans—add up to the more or less patented Justice formula: most times ecstatic, sometimes weird.

No better time than this to throw a party. The band’s release event last night stretched well into this morning, with Justice taking the stage at 2:00 am, three hours after the doors to Webster Hall were opened. More than enough time for party people debuting their Halloween costumes to climb atop speakers, shed their first two layers, and spark some trees.

Pedro, the head-man at Ed Banger Records (who models underwear in the documentary) served as on-stage hype man, and I think I even spotted Bouchon, the group’s gun-toting tour manager who manages to get himself arrested twice during the film. A blonde-haired Olivia Newton John-type got physical on a platform and got her picture taken—like a few hundred other girls doing the same thing—and the bulky jocks in front of me stripped off their lettermen jackets to air out their pits as they shared bro-hugs and cigarettes. Even they, after a while, danced too.—Fred McKindra