This Week in History: The Great Shanghai Daft Punk Scam of 2009

By Ned Kelly, February 10, 2020

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Friday the 13th of February, 2009 was the date of the secret Daft Punk Shanghai show that never was.

Just six days previously, Sunday February 8, the Shanghai web was suddenly abuzz that the mysterious robot-Frenchmen duo were going to perform in China for the very first time. A Facebook page touting a secret concert to be held the following Friday had appeared like manna from French house music heaven.

All the more exciting, the location would not be disclosed until the day of the concert. Punters bought a ticket - for a cool RMB500 (pictured below) - at a pop-up office by Xintiandi, left their mobile number and would be pinged the location the evening of.

Daft-Punk-Shanghai-Scam-Ticket.jpg
Photo courtesy of Greg Prudhommeaux

And for those who were desperate to believe (and there were over 2,000 of the poor suckers, apparently), a couple of things made it kinda, sorta plausible.

A warehouse party involving Paul van Dyk in 2002, that had been shut down by the fuzz just a few minutes in, was still fresh in the memory (seven years on - yeah, not so much used to go down in Shanghai back then). Daft Punk just wanted to avoid a repeat of that situation, right?

Then there was the reputation of Daft Punk themselves - a reputation for French whimsy. They had a history of such shenanigans. Guerilla concerts in the electro mist very much their style. So even when Daft Punk’s publicist denied knowledge of the concert, for those desperate to believe, it was 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink you crazy kids.'

Tickets sold out. People booked flights up from Guangzhou, train tickets down from Beijing. A sense of Gallic optimism filled the air. Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!

Then Madame Guillotine came crashing down.

Daft Punk had just won two Grammy awards, would they really be coming to Shanghai at such a moment?

The promoter’s website - www.dafthidden.com, now defunct (or should we say de-Punk'd) - did not hold up well under scrutiny. The web designer, when contacted, said he was no longer able to contact his client.

The pop-up agency selling tickets was simply leased office space. Promoters tasked with selling the tickets could now also no longer get through to the concert organizers.

It soon transpired two very bad Frenchmen had made up a big ol' load of merde about two robot-Frenchmen.

Shanghai took to the internet to spit venom. Human flesh search Facebook pages were set-up. Users rued the fact that the angry emoticon was still seven years off being introduced. (You can read Morgan Short's contemporaneous breakdown of the scam here).

As for the perpetrators, they remain fugitives from justice to this day (as far as we know), having hot-footed it with a million Yuan in ticket takings before the dust had even settled on their Great Shanghai Daft Punk Scam of 2009.

They are probably, at this very moment, lying on a beach on the French Riviera, fanning themselves with a wad of your 100 RMB notes...


For more, This Day in History stories, click here.

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