WEE WAA, Australia – A tiny Australian town better known for cotton-picking than culture was relishing the limelight Friday as thousands of electro-pop fans descended for French group Daft Punk’s album launch.
Though “Random Access Memories” has been available online for several days and the French duo will not be present, thousands of fans flocked to remote Wee Waa, a far-flung town of just 1,653, for the album’s official launch.
The cotton town’s population will more than double for the event – being billed as an “official album playback” – with 4,000 tickets sold and police expecting crowds of up to 6,000.
“The main street’s just chock-a-block, the transformation is just out of sight, it’s amazing,” said local Mayor Conrad Bolton. “We’re infamous around here, but today I think we’re famous.”
Wee Waa, known as the “Cotton Capital of Australia”, has thrown itself into the spirit, with the local butchery crafting Daft Pork Sausages and Random Access Rissoles – an Australian meatball.
The bakery, open all night specially for fans seeking a post-party snack, is selling Punk Pies and Techno Treats, and the local pub has ordered five times the usual number of kegs and rostered on 10 staff instead of its usual two.
There are robot masks – a nod to Daft Punk’s trademark headgear – on every street corner, with the town recording a series of online videos “Road to Wee Waa” showing local farmers, cotton threshers and schoolkids in costume.
Staff at the radio astronomy observatory, reported by Rolling Stone to be the reason Daft Punk chose Wee Waa to launch its futuristic album, recorded time-lapse footage of the telescopes dancing to the track “Get Lucky.”
Sony chartered a jet to fly journalists out to cover the event and has repeatedly quashed rumours that the pair of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter would put in a surprise appearance at the party.
But that hasn’t stopped a wave of so-called spottings as far afield as Ballarat in neighbouring Victoria state Friday.
The Daft Punk party is just one part of Wee Waa’s 79th annual agricultural show which features the usual fare of a pet show, wood-chopping contest, dog-jumping, a truck muster and talent quest.
Speaking to Australian radio ahead of the launch event, Daft Punk said Australia was the last place they had toured back in December 2007 and returning here with their first album in eight years felt like a natural fit.
“Each time we went to Australia it was a great experience. It feels like Australia understands our music and we’re excited to present the music there,” the duo said.
Of Wee Waa they added: “It could be anywhere – that’s what this music is made for. Anywhere and everywhere.”