There’s always been a certain mythic allure surrounding Daft Punk. Clad in shiny helmets, suits, and gloves, they seem like they’d be more at home in a sci-fi film than at an awards show. Sure, a quick Google search will yield you the names of the people behind the spectacle: French DJs Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. Yet first and foremost, the world knows Daft Punk as robots—precisely, according to lore, two musically gifted men who were turned into robots in a studio accident. From the very beginning, the duo has been hesitant to speak publicly or give interviews, reinforcing the illusion that Daft Punk is truly from another reality. That’s why, ten years ago, the Alive 2007 tour was such a big deal. It brought fans closer to Daft Punk than they’d ever been before while still maintaining the air of mystery surrounding them—if not enhancing it.
Alive 2007 was not Daft Punk’s first adventure on the road. A decade earlier, the robots had played songs from their debut Homework on their “Daftendirektour,” which resulted in the live album Alive 1997. Alive 2007 was different, though, because it mixed selections from Homework with material from Discovery and Human After All. While Homework’s “Around the World” was a major hit, Homework as a whole never quite reached the heights of Discovery, Daft Punk’s sophomore album—an album that would later be named one of Rolling Stone’s “30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time” and Pitchfork’s “Top 200 Albums of the 2000s”; an album so fantastical that it even got its own anime film. Human After All also aged well, boasting some of Daft Punk’s most memorable songs, such as the title track and “Technologic.” Drawing upon all three of these records, the Alive 2007 album gives you the thrill of hearing a Daft Punk show without requiring you to leave your room.
Undoubtedly, one of the most fun parts of listening to Alive 2007 is seeing how Daft Punk combines their most iconic songs to make electrifying new creations. They never chop up tracks to the extent that they’re unrecognizable; large, relatively unaltered segments of major successes like “Around the World” and “One More Time” can be heard. However, the most fascinating moments on the album occur when the worlds of different Daft Punk songs collide in a way that’s surprising, but makes total sense. For example, refer to the way the “Music’s got me feeling so free” bridge of “One More Time” is layered over the “Aerodynamic” guitar solo, or the way the “Something’s in the air!” loop from “Superheroes” is eventually joined by the unforgettable riff that opens “Human After All.” These mashups are all the better because they mix songs from different albums, uniting the Daft Punk of the past with the Daft Punk of the present (at the time of the tour).
While Alive 2007 is certainly most notable for the way it reinvents Daft Punk’s original music, other artists’ songs are also skillfully incorporated into the experience, as is common with DJ sets. “Aerodynamic Beats/Gabrielle, Forget About the World” is a remix of “Forget About the World,” a 1996 single by the English singer and songwriter Gabrielle. The ten-minute grand finale of the set features “Music Sounds Better with You,” the one single by French house trio Stardust (which includes Thomas Bangalter). These tracks mesh well with the rest of the set rather than breaking its flow, a true testament to Daft Punk’s ability to play around with other artists’ material.
As the years have passed, many of the robots’ devotees have pleaded for an Alive 2017 tour—especially since 2012’s Random Access Memories and 2016’s collaborations between Daft Punk and The Weeknd. Unfortunately, it’s almost December, so that possibility seems unlikely now. At least we can jam out to Alive 2007 and appreciate it for what it is—an album that captures an important moment in EDM history. Famous DJs like Skrillex have described seeing the 2007 tour as a pivotal experience in their creative journeys. The album may not be able to recreate the feeling of seeing the iconic “Daft Punk pyramid” in person, but it’s still an audial experience like no other. All in all, it’s necessary listening for not only Daft Punk fans, but also all fans of house music.