03 June 2010
The Fillmore Auditorium
San Francisco, California
Let's just say he has a better record collection than you do. God bless Mr James Murphy - the rambunctious, energetic, clever, and just plain inventive frontman for LCD Soundsystem. Only he, during their manic performance at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, could deliver a line like this (from "Pow Pow," my favorite song off the new album, This Is Happening) - and in one breath, at that:
On this occasion, there are a couple of things that we knowthat we learned from Fact Magazine:One, the king wears a king hat and lives in a king houseTwo, your time will come, but tonight is our night, so you should give us all your drugsThree, we have a black president and you do not, so shut up,because you don't know shit about where I'm from that you didn't get from your TV.
Take these lyrics, practically spoken-word/poetry-slammed into what looked like a vintage '50s 555 VMOT microphone over a staccato rhythm of intense percussion, jangling guitar, heavy dub-style bass, intricate and spidery synths, and a catchy-as-all-fucking-hell chorus ("Pow, pow pow pow pow, pow pow pow pow!"): Whatcha got?
Well, according to my math, you've got yourselves a pretty goddamn good time. The sold-out crowd at 1805 Geary, sweating their asses off whilst dancing, swaying, and generally having the time of their life was good evidence of this scientific theory.
Earlier in the day, Ess Eff was getting rather balmy (about 75ºF/21ºC), and in the midst of all the pressing bodies in the venue - well, I gotta say, it was getting fairly hot (and this was before the show started!). Murphy and company took the stage at a little past ten - he wiped his forehead with his arm and bemoaned the fact that there wasn't a towel available to wipe away his sweat. "Damn, it's hot up here and I think they forgot about me?" he half-asked into the mike - a roady immediately fluttered out from stage left and delivered a fluffy blue towel. After a quick wipe-down and a thank-you to the bearer of cloth, Murphy and company wasted absolutely no time in crunching into their set with the opener, "Us V Them," from the second album, Sound of Silver.
LCD Soundsystem did not disappoint; not in the slightest. James Murphy and his usual gang of suspects - including the lovely Nancy Whang from DFA (Murphy's record company - interestingly enough, they used to be called Death From Above, but after the 9/11 attacks it was generally felt that that name was somehow inappropriate for a NYC-based label) band The Juan MacLean - tore into the venue's revered atmosphere like Lindsey Lohan into a baggy of white powder. Madness ensued forthwith, as the stage saw Murphy and his six cohorts ripping and roaring through a two hour set spattered with songs from all three albums. (On a sad note, James Murphy has said in no uncertain terms that This Is Happening will be the last LCD Soundsystem album. I hear he's champing at the bit to return to his producing and compiling duties with DFA. I hope he changes his mind!)
From the mad rush of percussion and Herbie Hancock-inspired keyboards of "Us V Them," to the sinister madness and howling laughter of "Yr City's A Sucker," and to the sheer brazen spectacle of the epic "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," the trademark humor and winking irony of Murphy's lyrics went hand in hand with a hodgepodge of music stylings - veering wildly at times, but almost always working like a charm. And if you can find in your collection another band that's as enthusiastic with the cowbell, please let me know! (Christopher Walken would be proud.)
"I Can Change," a wonderfully cynical love song ("... And love is a curse shoved in a hearse/Love is an open book to a verse of your bad poetry/And this is coming from me.") brings to mind the lyrics of Morrissey, delivered with panache over the synth-pop flavorings of early 80's figureheads The Eurythmics (I was thinking "Love Is A Stranger"). "Drunk Girls," the first single off of the new album rings with echoes of the late 70's Iggy Pop-fueled Detroit Rock cacophony (that, in this reviewer's opinion, did not mesh well with the rest of the show. Not the best song in LCD Soundsystem's canon). Downbeat and pretty damn sad tracks "Someone Great" and "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" closed out the set once again, proving that James Murphy is purely capable of capping off a party with a downer like he did last time I saw them at Mezzanine in 2007! But - whatever.
As I hinted at above, I would like to make a plea to Mr Murphy regarding his rumored plans to cease and desist his purported disintegration of LCD Soundsystem. Mr Murphy, if you're reading this, I implore you: The world of electronic music and synth-pop need you! We need our resident trickster, our jack-of-all-trades. True, sir, it may be that you feel you're truly shining as a producer/mixer/collaborator extraordinaire - and I'm imaging that that's probably true; I'm not trying to be selfish - but we do need you, I reckon. Because in a musical genre that tends to take itself just a wee bit seriously, it's always nice to have a sense of humor, don't you think? Thanks for listening!
us v them
yr city's a sucker
daft punk is playing at my house
all i want
all my friends
i can change
losing my edge
new york i love you but you're bringing me down
For my loyal readers, here is LCD Soundsystem performing "Us V Them" in Manchester, UK!