Music

Yes, LCD Soundsystem’s Live Show Is Still Great Even When You’re Not In New York

LCD Soundsystem’s new album American Dream was a good comeback. It wasn’t necessarily earth-shattering, but it was definitely good. In the last year or so since their initial reunion, I have been lucky enough to see the band three times: Twice in our shared hometown of New York, and now once in Detroit. Walking into Detroit’s Masonic Temple for LCD Soundsystem’s second night in town, I was interested to see if the aura surrounding the band would be at all different in this new city. With a DJ named Heidi spinning some great background house music as the crowd filed in, the dance floor was already moving before the band even took the stage, excitement continuing to build as the 9:15 PM start time drew nearer.

As soon as the band walked on stage and launched into Sound of Silver cut “Us V. Them,” any chance that the differing cities would change reception for the band immediately disappeared. In support of American Dream, this is LCD Soundsystem’s first non-festival tour since their reunion, and the large club vibe of the Masonic Temple was a perfect fit for the band’s signature “dance punk” sound — the dance party didn’t cease for two hours. While heavier songs like “Movement” and the thrashing instrumental break of “You Wanted A Hit” saw a small mosh pit open up in the center of the floor, the crowd was relatively calm, with a few exceptions of individuals unable to hold their liquor (or whatever other substances were in their system).

As for the performance, LCD Soundsystem sounded better than ever, bringing songs old and new to life on stage with a fervor and energy that’s simply impossible to capture on record. Most notably, American Dream‘s “Tonite” has an understated intensity when transferred from record to stage, the sections after the chorus accentuated by lighting cues and heavy bass drops. “Home” saw the introduction of a massive disco ball that sat at the top of the stage, illuminating the band and the crowd alike, while during “Tribulations” the band basked in a red backlight that left them as shadows. Closing out the main set, frontman James Murphy took a seat at the piano toward the rear of the stage and let keyboardist Nancy Whang take vocal lead for a cover of Chic’s “I Want Your Love.”

After what Murphy called “not an encore, but a quick break to pee,” the band returned to the stage for a calming rendition of American Dream‘s “Oh Baby” before launching into “Dance Yrself Clean,” the staple opening track of This Is Happening, which featured multi-colored lights and heavy instrumentals as Murphy screamed, “Don’t you want me to wake up? Then give me just a bit of your time. Arguments are made for make outs, so give it just a little more time.”

The night ended with a rousing rendition of “All My Friends,” a song with an incredible emotional resonance that I have written about before after seeing the band’s reunion set at Panorama Festival in 2016. In Detroit, the atmosphere was only compacted into a smaller space, with the entire crowd lifting off the ground for the track’s cathartic final minutes. As the echoes faded into the ether, some stood in awe with tears in their eyes, while others left the Masonic Temple with a renewed sense of purpose.

Setlist:

1. “Us v Them”
2. “I Can Change”
3. “Call The Police”
4. “Get Innocuous!”
5. “You Wanted a Hit”
6. “Tribulations”
7. “Movement”
8. “Someone Great”
9. “Change Yr Mind”
10. “Yr City’s a Sucker”
11. “Tonite”
12. “Home’
13. “I Want Your Love” (Chic cover)
14. “Oh Baby”
15. “Dance Yrself Clean”
16. “All My Friends”

American Dream is out now via Columbia Records. Get it here.

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