LCD Soundsystem has become a part of the musical zeitgeist. One could gather as much based off their countless festival headlining spots, their sold-out Madison Square Garden “farewell,” and the amount of pages dedicated to James Murphy and company in the 2017 oral history book Meet Me In the Bathroom. The phrase ‘going out on top’ is a nice ideal for those that idolized the rock-meets-electronic outfit in the 2000s, but Murphy couldn’t help but come back to the thing he did best: make music. So here we are in 2017 with a new LCD Soundsystem album, American Dream. Murphy has now become an icon of sorts for the aging hipster population. (Even a T-shirt at the band's merch table alludes to this observation. Among other conversation-starting merch choices - a baby onesie that proclaims "I might be gay" in rainbow colors.) For this demographic, the excitement was understandably high at The Anthem, where the band kicked off their North American tour. After a long, anticipated wait (seven years have passed since their last DC-area show), LCD Soundsystem kept it as down-to-earth as the band has always done. Aside from the massive disco ball, of course.
As a live show experience, LCD Soundsystem hasn’t changed since their MSG farewell - they’re still a bunch of people on stage making music with an imposing army of analog equipment underneath a giant disco ball, a not-so-subtle reminder that the crowd is expected to dance. that drummer Pat Mahoney, keyboardist/backing vocalist Nancy Whang, guitarist Al Doyle, and pinch hitter Matthew Thornley all play their important part in making the music come alive without the help of any laptops on stage. As the head of this group, Murphy is still the sometimes-stoic, sometimes-explosive workhorse perfectionist that fans have known him to be. And being a perfectionist is key with all that equipment on stage. The addition of a few newly-refurbished synths courtesy of Gavin Rayna Russom caused some issues before launching into “I Can Change” - first-day-of-tour blues. Murphy, ever the perfectionist, came to help re-shape the synth sounds, and the show continued without any hitches.
The band drew from all four albums equally, from the rock-rave jumpiness of “Tribulations” to the slow-burning “Oh Baby.” Murphy and company decided to keep things a bit weird as well by including a 4-minute-long jarring synth interlude. The crowd started paying less attention to the stage at this point, but they won the crowd back by immediately following it up with “Someone Great.” Fan favorites “Dance Yrself Clean” and the “All My Friends” closed out the set as friends and strangers alike jumped in the air together for the big emotional finish. Throughout the night, the communal catharsis felt throughout the 6,000-person venue was strong. From the back area of the pit to the third-floor balconies, people were glad to once again experience the music that defined the 2000s for them. Yes, James Murphy’s still got it. And if he’s to be believed this time, they’ll be back much sooner than seven years from now.