Words by: Robyn Rubinstein
LCD Soundsystem :: 06.08.07 :: Mezzanine :: San Francisco, CA
Disco and punk grew up on different blocks of the same neighborhood. They didn't have a lot of friends in common, and sometimes they beat each other up under the bleachers behind the community pool. Like all of us, they had to go through their individual growing pains. Now that the awkward adolescent phase is long since over, the two can finally relax and get to know each other without the pretense or façade that springs from the uncertainty of youth. LCD Soundsystem is a marriage of disco and punk that delivers intelligent, underground angst with a potent dance beat and an adult sensibility that proves it really does get better as you grow up.
| LCD Soundsystem by Tmesis|
LCD Soundsystem is the brainchild of James Murphy, co-founder of DFA (or Death From Above) Records. In the studio, LCD Soundsystem is just Murphy, a "tragically hip producer, who has been described as the Pharrell Williams of post-funk." Live, LCD Soundsystem is a quintet of friends and power-punk, art-rock musicians with a stalwart command of their instruments. Featuring Pat Mahoney (drums), Nancy Whang (keyboards, vocals), bassist Tyler Pope (also of !!! and Out Hud) and ex-Sabres of Paradise member Phil Mossman (guitar, percussion, keys, bass). Their influences - Talking Heads, Brian Eno, ESG – are conspicuous, but it's always homage, never plagiarism. Murphy has described the band as "a laboratory for experiments on what a band should be." At Mezzanine, their chemistry proved flammable and addictive, laden with sarcasm, self-deprecating snark and a serious beat. Clearly, I want more.
Though Murphy is a dynamic, charismatic frontman, adept at singing and percussion, I kept turning to drummer Pat Mahoney. Even with hot stage lighting and the sold out crowd, it was nakedly obvious that Mahoney was ill, feverish and sweating profusely. He played the entire show in a t-shirt, boxer shorts and a lobster skin tone. Throughout the show, he was as tight as a metronome.
| James Murphy - LCD Soundsystem|
"Us v Them" opened the set and came out like a charging mob, proving that there is indeed a time for more cowbell. "Time to Get Away" is the smug anthem for every schmuck who has ever let you down – "To think I used to pity you/ To think I used to talk to you/ It's true." Nancy Wang was an edifice of cool behind her keyboards until "Yeah" – a cut from their self-titled double album that has earned a crass version and a pretentious version – when all of her vocal and keyboard powers came to the wailing zenith of the chorus. "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" is one of their battle anthems, and this performance was no exception, infectious and fiery. Their final encore, "New York, I Love You" was a beautifully layered and disillusioned ballad for New York City. Murphy's stage presence, graying hair and love-hate relationship with New York was largely reminiscent of David Byrne, in a very comforting way. Clearly, they're on the same team.
Live LCD Soundsystem is art-rock, post-funk, dance-punk at its finest. If you can find another band this skilled at this many genres at once, I'd love to hear about them.
JamBase | City By The Bay
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