Photos by Mickey Cerball
Author’s note: Is it too heavy handed to begin this review by changing the lyrics of “Daft Punk is Playing at House” to “LCD is Playing at the Anthem?”
Last Wednesday, LCD Soundsystem delivered a two and half hour, no holds barred set as a part of The Anthem’s first week of shows, the second night in a series of performances that spanned the the group’s entire discography. Throughout the course of the entire evening (and I really mean the entire evening), James Murphy and company expertly straddled the line between traditional live musicianship and an electronic sample-based club bacchanal, a genre-meshing performance accentuated best by the newly-minted, industrial-yet-familiar Anthem stage setup.
LCD’s performance was proceeded by an hour-length DJ set, the soundscape for which occupied the space between progressive house and nu-disco. It certainly helped break an anticipatory audience out of a stale stillness and into a danceable, energizing preamble. As LCD’s sound tends to lean upon alternative-rock with EDM influences, it was interesting and enjoyable to see how the two parts of this performance could segue seamlessly between both sides of the coin that inform DFA Record’s (and by proxy, LCD’s) discography. Not to mention the ability to make The Anthem feel like both a club and a venue went a long way in creating a fun and unforgettable evening.
As the DJ set faded out to a repeating keyboard staccato, the lights dimmed, only illuminated by an industrial red glow while LCD entered en masse to open the show with “Oh Baby,” the first track from the recently released american dream. LCD’s experience in showmanship is readily apparent in a live setting. With no introduction, the group brought each instrument in individually, building to a crescendo as James Murphy’s theatric baritone voice echoed outwards. With a bombastic cymbal crash, a single light illuminated a large mirror ball, projecting refractions out to an applauding audience–the party starts now.
From “Oh Baby,” Soundsystem transitioned to “Call the Police,” one of the three singles released in the promotional build up to dream’s release. Despite the palpable energy in performance, it was surprising to see each member maintain an elegant stillness in performance, save for Murphy, who gesticulates dramatically with each lyric, occasionally setting the mic down to fill in on the cowbell or claps. Most of the band’s movement centered around their shifting to different instruments, their live instrument setup akin more to a studio in the sense that each keyboard, drum set and sampler is placed in a way that facilitates the band’s multi-instrumentality rather than demonstrates it. LCD is a well-oiled machine, something readily apparent in live performance based on the wide texture of tones.
As the evening’s discography-spanning performance marched forward, LCD reached a fever pitch following “Movement,” upon which the group dove headfirst into a static-driven Lynchian interlude, complete with pulsing strobes and Murphy’s characteristic sing-speak. It was a disorienting and experimental segue, concluded by a return to sober clarity on the emotional “Someone Great,” a song about the death of Murphy’s therapist, and a dynamic highlight of the evening.
LCD chose to end their second evening performance with back to back crowd pleasers “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends,” the latter of which best epitomized the evening’s performance–LCD brings a show that walks the line between a Friday night’s energy and the emotional gravity of life. Many of the people who showed up last Wednesday probably never thought they would get a chance to see LCD after their highly-publicized 2011 breakup–in 2017, it’s nice to see to see all our friends tonight, together again.