Better Than: A really good laugh-cry.
It’s the third of LCD Soundsystem’s final five shows, all leading up to the band’s final hurrah at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, when we’re almost positive that the stadium will spontaneously combust during the band’s final chord. But tonight we’re perfectly safe as long as we minded the excessively intoxicated French girl constantly teetering a little too close to the balcony railing for comfort. LCD pal Shit Robot took on warm-up duties for those who arrived promptly at 7 p.m, aiming to grab prime standing room before the thousands that would follow them. It’s a hard time slot to fill as a DJ, but he did so with determination. His glowing green robot mask peered through a cutout in the middle of a huge video screen as he took the decks, blasting a friendly offering to all the idling LCD fans with his own “Tuff Enuff” (a track that features vocals from Murphy himself). The bouncy bloated bass and Krautrock-styled synths kickstarted the dance party almost immediately. Having the song’s hook projected on screen from maximum audience participation didn’t hurt either.
While the DJ’s set was a blurring mix of house, electro-grit, and laidback pop-infused dance, his own tracks were the highlight of last night’s set. “Simple Things,” a refreshingly honest house homage, complete with heavy, rubbery bass kick, eventually played out into a synth-laden groove while demanding loops of “Work it out” hid in the mix. The rock-god themed guitar rifts on “Grim Receiver” propelled a new wave of energy from those less inclined to dance to acid house. On screen, robots hung out at a laundromat disco before boarding a spaceship and launching into space. Alexis Taylor and James Murphy appeared (in video form) to sing along to the electro-ballad “Losing My Patience” while Nancy Whang graced the mic in person for her own “Take Em’ Up.” Whang, a diva in her own right, stomped along to the ’80s dance groove while smoothly chanting an appropriate verse of, “Ain’t nobody gonna say bye-bye.”
And so it began. The man of the hour took the stage in a suit but looking as haggard as ever–shirt wrinkled and un-tucked, scraggly, graying beard and all–and launched immediately into “Dance Yrself Clean,” as he had the previous two nights, but with the mike-grasping exertion you’d expect to be reserved for “Yeah.” It would continue on like that for most of the night. This first set of two (with two encores) served as a trap for booming audience singalongs, as if to get them out of the way. “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” sparked an all-out, borderline violent mosh-pit that, willingly or otherwise, consumed at least 300 of the revelers closest to the stage. A boy’s choir is spotlighted in the rafters for “I Can Change,” while Murphy introduced ex-guitarist Phil Mossman to take on the bass-y vocals on “Too Much Love.” He thanked the audience repeatedly between songs, as if he didn’t know that we latching on to his every breath with an intensity that’s almost shameful. (He did know.)
The second set separated the This Is Happening fans from the rest. “45:33”, originally commissioned to serve as a jogging soundtrack for Nike, parlayed on stage as a full on disco jam-band fiasco with an additional horn troupe and manically furious drum-off between Murphy and the band’s Pat Mahoney. Thousands of people danced by themselves, if only because there was no room for choreography. And, as someone who often wants to call Murphy a bit of a brat, I even begrudgingly succumbed to full blown idol worship while shamelessly dancing like a fool–a slightly tamer reflection of what was happening on stage.
Critical Bias: Seen this band four times this year and every show is better than the last.
Overheard: “Is that Deadmau5?”, referring to Shit Robot.
LCD Soundsystem Setlist
Dance Yrself Clean
I Can Change
Time to Get Away
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
Too Much Love
All My Friends
45:33 Pt 1/2
Sound of Silver
45:33 Pt 4-6
Us v Them
North American Scum
You Wanted A Hit
Losing My Edge
All I Want
Jump Into The Fire
New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down