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LCD Soundsystem (Night #1)
Thursday, May 20
“We’re here for four days — tonight I will sleep in my own bed, and wake up and have coffee in my own house,” announces James Murphy, with palpable relief and an uncharacteristic lack of ambition. Nonetheless, from the first strains of “Us vs. Them,” the suave, propulsive hedonism of LCD Soundsystem is out in force: the swaggering bassline, the cowbell, and the dramatically lit disco ball, which leads your eye to the large bag of balloons looming up on the ceiling, waiting for tonight’s climactic moment. Which is gonna be what, exactly? “Drunk girls wait an hour to pee”? “I can change if it helps you fall in love”? “I was there at the first Can shows, in Cologne”?
The answer is the moment immediately after Murphy and Nancy Whang, my favorite among his small army of tremendously adept dance-punk foot soldiers (her favorite movie is The Blues Brothers!), belt out a few bars of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” at the dramatic conclusion of “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” But the nearly two hours prior are quite a bit… spazzier. There’s the new This Is Happening to promote: “Drunk Girls” is a bit muddy and sluggish, “Pow Pow” is pleasantly rambling and nonsensical, “I Can Change” is awfully lithe and appealing for a tune so emotionally brutal. But mostly what this show confirms is holy shit, do people still love “All My Friends.”
Verily, most of the glued-together crowd is screaming along by the definitive LCD anthem’s midway point — “AND IF THE SUN COMES UP, IF THE SUN COMES UP, etc. — but the slow-burn, nearly 10-minute crescendo is so perfect that the actual climax — “WHERE ARE YOUR FRIENDS TONIGHT???!!!” — is rapturous in the traditional sense, a collective explosion of nostalgia, proving that thousands of fans of a certain age still have Creepy Uncle New York’s back. For his part, Murphy is slightly debonair and slightly goofy, tripping over a cord and nearly wiping out during “Tribulations,” nailing the high notes of the surprisingly affecting “Someone Great,” busting out a sweet cowbell solo during “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.” Then he apes Alicia Keys for a few seconds and saunters offstage, presumably toward his own bed. We file out to the strains of Brian Eno’s “By This River,” and a cacophony of popping balloons.