By now even the most bruised of LCD Soundsystem fans — still raw after frontman James Murphy pulled the unsettling histrionic of consciously uncoupling from the scene in 2011, only to slide back in — likely have given the reunion album a listen. And if opening night of the Brooklyn outfit’s U.S. American Dream tour Tuesday night (Oct. 17) at buzzy new D.C. music hall The Anthem is an indication, lots of those fans are ready to give Murphy and his squad another spin on the club floor, too.
They weren’t disappointed. Like the new album itself (released Sept. 1 on Murphy’s DFA/Columbia), the new LCD live show is an immersive embrace. Surrounded by a seven-strong squad — notably keyboardist/vocalist Nancy Whang, synth master Gavin Russom and drummer Pat Mahoney — Murphy largely let the music do the talking. He’s finished apologizing and is ready to bask in the present, doing what he loves.
Pacing their ebb, flow and more flow around their latest batch of dread-obsessed fodder, LCD seemed to get their sea legs back in real time with the crowd. It was a palpable communion. A gracious Murphy early on noted LCD had just returned from playing tiny clubs in Europe — “It was pretty terrifying because people were all up in our shit” — and were “psychologically adjusting” to The Anthem’s girth. A little later, the crowd embraced a “Losing My Edge” sing-along, which cascaded up through the venue’s balconies. An encore of “Dance Yrself Clean,” that of the neurotic tempo build, was among highlights.
A few impressions from opening night:
The new stuff is spot-on live. The band live-debuted album opener ”Oh Baby.” “That’s the first time we played that song for… people,” Murphy said at the conclusion of the hypnotic number, which segued seamlessly into Bowie-esque “Call the Police,” a song the band released this summer. Other songs getting their big-scale North American intro were “Change Yr Mind,” “Emotional Haircut” and dystopia-disguised-as-disco anthem “Tonite.”
They went big on opening night. Toward the end of the two-hour set, Murphy casually invited the at-capacity crowd of 6,000 to the official afterparty, featuring the LCDJs (members Al Doyle and Tyler Pope) at U Street Music Hall, which has a capacity of 500. U Street is Anthem founder Seth Hurwitz’s nearby basement dance club, so the sequence also illuminated a nice interplay between the two venues as often happens with U Street and sister 9:30 Club. Tickets for the afterparty went for $15.
The band uses their encore break wisely. Not once, not twice but three times Murphy let the crowd in on what he’d be doing during the short time off stage, and teased the few upcoming new numbers to come. “We’re going to leave the stage, take a piss and then we’ll be back with more music,” he said. “Doesn’t mean we’re done.”
Indeed, far from done.