LCD Soundsystem / May 6, 2007 / Chicago (Metro)
James Murphy, like the best DJs, is at heart a brilliant synthesist. He'll string together whatever it takes to make people dance. In the case of LCD Soundsystem, that means bits borrowed from TalkingJames Murphy, like the best DJs, is at heart a brilliant synthesist. He'll string together whatever it takes to make people dance.
In the case of LCD Soundsystem, that means bits borrowed from Talking Heads, Arthur Russell, New Order, Art Of Noise, Brian Eno, the Fall and countless other acts both obvious and obscure. Yet no one would ever confuse LCD Soundsystem for those acts. That's the brilliance of synthesis. Put all the elements together and those looming influences are reduced ingredients.
Still, the secret to LCD Soundsystem's live show is all in the delivery. At a packed Metro on a Sunday night, Murphy and his band slammmed through most of the songs from their second album, "Sound of Silver," yet there was little rock band attitude and swagger. Rather, LCD Soundsystem's approach was almost all-business, which is a very different thing from being business-like. To the contrary, LCD Soundystem's business is making people move, and the group put every ounce of concentration into making sure that happened.
"Us Vs. Them" opened with one of the group's more epic arrangements, with the song building later by layer: steady drums, pulsing bass, chicken-scratch guitar, chanted vocals, some keyboards, a little extra percussion. The crowd responded in turn.
With so many acts toting around laptops these days, it was welcome to see LCD Soundsystem live espouse Murphy's stated love of warm, analog sound, music made by humans for humans (as opposed to Murphy faves Daft Punk's preference for music made by robots for humans who love robots). Hence "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" -- like its scenario -- was more punk rock than Studio 54, just as "North American Scum" rode a riff borrowed from Buzzcock Pete Shelley's "Homosapien" to hypnotic (and, with its snide but perceptive lyrics, hilarious) heights. That is, only until "All My Friends" reached the kind of euphoria bands rarely achieve these days, or at least bands other than LCD Soundsystem, for whom euphoria is almost second nature.
Indeed, it's as if Murphy and the rest of the group gathered one day and asked themselves: why bother making music that doesn't strive for the heavens? As "All My Friends" stretched on and on, the smiles in the sweating, swooning crowd showed the group it was not only on the right track but that the track could go on forever, whether it was laid with noisy drones like "Yeah," throbbing glam-punk pastiches like "Watch the Tapes," heartfelt laments like "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" or even Joy Division's "No Love Lost.".
After all, it all gets back to the job of the DJ. It doesn't matter what you play as long as it gets the crowd moving. And right now there are few acts that make you move as well as LCD Soundsystem.