LCD Soundsystem know what I like. They know what I like because they’ve been on the other side of the stage before, sweating it out as frenzied fans. Ex-punk new waver James Murphy has studied at the feet of a wide group of musicians and he’s learned what it takes to make a great performance.
With disco ball in tow, LCD Soundsystem put forth what is possibly the greatest performance to hit the bluegrass in quite some time.
I have to say that for someone whose instrumental contributions are limited to a few drum hits or cowbell whacks, James Murphy knows how to work a crowd into a mess. Armed with a fantastic backing band and the world’s best disco-funk light show, he took the show from zero to sixty in few a seconds of the first song, Sound of Silver‘s “Us V Them.” From there the group wasted no time jumping into “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and “North American Scum” (on which they were joined by Win from Arcade Fire on vocals) before breaking into their dancier material.
I hadn’t paid too much attention to LCD Soundsystem’s first record until I saw them play at Lollapalooza. After experiencing them live, you realize how much of a banger “Movement” and “Yeah” are. “Yeah” in particular stretched out for every second of its nine-minute run time in all its beat-driven glory. It closed their main set before the group came back for a quick encore.
On the drive to Louisville, I remarked how I figured I’d never get to hear “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” live. It doesn’t fit the group’s MO as far as I’d seen live. Much to my slack-jawed amazement, they pulled it out as their blue light drenched finale. James paced the stage as if inspecting it while singing his song of disillusionment to anyone still standing after their dance party. It was the cool down, the closer and the send-off to an absolutely perfect performance.
There are few groups touring today that I feel have the same repeat viewing value as LCD Soundsystem. Their strength comes not from shtick but from the driving strength of their songs. It’s powerful, passionate and the perfect mix of visual and audio stimulation. Few know how to work a beat like LCD Soundsystem, and fewer still know how to twist it and a roaring riff into a knot so tight that no one could escape if they wanted to. As for me, I doubt I’d ever want to escape; they do know what I like, after all.