The small Australian town of Wee Waa is readying for its global launch of the new album by French group Daft Punk, despite being pipped at the post with the music already available online.
Wee Waa, a farming town known as the “Cotton Capital of Australia”, lies about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north-west of Sydney and Daft Punk are not attending Friday’s event.
But that has not stopped fans of the enigmatic electro-pop group from descending on the tiny community which will launch the long-awaited new album as part of the annual Wee Waa agricultural show.
Wee Waa Show president Brett Dickinson told the ABC he was not disappointed that the album was already widely available on the Internet and that he expected the turnout to be more than 4,000, huge numbers for a town of 1,600.
“It’s hard to have a party on your own when you download a song off the Internet,” he told the broadcaster.
“If you want to be part of this… spectacular show that’s going to be here on Friday night, it’s the place to be.”
Tickets for the official “album playback show” for “Random Access Memories” sold out quickly and local police have launched an operation to manage crowds.
Ann-Maree Galagher, from the Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce, said accommodation was booked solid, locals were taking in house guests and campervans and tents had been set up around town.
“There are lots of people coming from all over the place, and why not, they are just wanting to come along and enjoy the party for the album launch,” she told AFP.
“It’s the biggest thing since… what’s the saying … sliced bread.”
But with the music now available as a stream on Apple’s iTunes music store and a celebrity-packed playback party held on Monday at The Shard in London, at least one resident has expressed surprise at the hype.
“They reckon it’s supposed to be the launch here so they shouldn’t have released it before then,” Christine Kelly told the Sydney Morning Herald.
But Galagher said the town had seized the spirit of the event.
“The town is plastered with Daft Punk. Businesses are on board; the butcher is selling Random Access Rissoles (a flat Australian meatball) and things like that. The pie shop has ‘punkalicious pies’,” she said, adding that some locals were also wearing Daft Punk inspired helmets.
Formed in 1993, the Grammy Award-winning group made up of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are a major force in the French house music scene, known for their elaborate, costumed live shows.
But did most of Wee Waa know who they were before the album launch was announced? “No,” admits Galagher. “They certainly know who they are now.”