October 29, 2010
Yes, the pictures are the proof, I was right up front for this show. The irony is, after seeing intimate shows by Vampire Weekend and MGMT in the balcony, Phoenix did a show whose visuals, not to mention grandiose music, often spilled beyond the stage.
However, standing up front at the last show of Phoenix’s world tour, at the intimate Miami Beach venue at least provided a behind-the-scenes feeling while still having the full effect of the music. At one point, during an instrumental, singer Thomas Mars laid down on the floor with the back of his head on a monitor, casually tapping his toes out of the view of most of the audience, except those right up front.
But before the main act hit the stage, the members of Wavves ambled on as the house lights dimmed only slightly with little fanfare and barely any affectation on stage. Singer/guitarist Nathan Williams even taped his own hand-written set list to the stage. The rough-edged post punk group from San Diego played spirited and raw music. They served as a stark contrast to the slick pop rock of Phoenix, with their fancy lights and perky guitar-work. It made me wonder whether Phoenix hired the Wavves just to make them look better. Not that the Wavves are a bad band. Their ragged rock certainly follows the tropes of the post punk aesthetic, and their first album, 2009′s Wavvves, actually features some odd musical experiments of drones and noise that they left off their more classic punk album, 2010′s King of the Beach.
On Wednesday night, they tore through their repertoire with consistent, raw and simple energy. There wasn’t much thrashing or posturing by the band members, just a self-absorbed energy for their music. I captured the full version of “Beach Demon,” from their first album on video below:
After a short wait, Phoenix took the stage in darkness, a mist of smoke and flashing lights. Guitarist Christian Mazzalai was practically right in front of me. His airy, bright guitar licks came out as effortless as they sound on record. His stared out into the audience with a distant kind of casual quality, as his hands did the magic, driving Phoenix’s unique in-offensive, peppy rock. The French group’s sound would have sounded comfortable on late 70s commercial rock radio, alongside late period Who and ELO, it’s so classic in its sound. It’s not even remotely edgy like the post-punk sound that came out of England during that time. Hence, the odd juxtaposition with Wavves. I only caught two videos of Phoenix during the show. Here is the first, “Armistice”:
Phoenix probably performed the most theatrical of the shows I have seen at the Fillmore, Miami Beach this month. They made the smart move to elevate the drum kits and additional keyboards and had an array of lights, often super-bright and blinding to those too close to the stage. At the end of “North,” they suddenly dropped a giant, thin white curtain over the stage, which also created a waft of the smell of fresh, clean linen, a perfect complement to the fresh, crisp sound of the band.
Behind the curtain, Phoenix slowly and dramatically began building up the epic and mostly instrumental “Love Like a Sunset,” projecting giant shadows of themselves through the flowing fabric. Here is the beginning of the video captured on someone’s cell phone camera (unfortunately, the amazing climax is cut short):
This wasn’t the only time Phoenix made a strong attempt to reach the audience beyond the stage. Toward the end of the set, the band did a couple of songs from beyond the stage– as far as they could go. The two brothers and guitarists, Christian and Branco Mazzalai climbed over the barrier and through some fans to stand on a platform at the side of the stage. Meanwhile, bassist Deck d’Arcy took a small Yamaha keyboard and sat on a monitor right in from of me. Mars took his position on the barrier near the other side of the stage. They performed one of their mellower tunes, as well as a French classic from the sixties, “La Fille aux Cheveux Clairs.” I did not make a video, but I was able to snap some stills.
It reminded me of Coldplay’s efforts to reach the lawn seats at the Cruzan Amphitheater in West Palm Beach last year, when the band ran out beyond all the assigned seats to take to a small stage and play a couple of acoustic songs. Phoenix really made an effort to reach out to as many attendees in the theater as possible, like no other show I have seen at the Fillmore this month.
Their finale was their pièce de résistance. At the end of “1901,” crew members made a fire line to get a glowing orange cable out to the back of the pit, where Mars would show up to sing reprise the end of the song. The crowd held him above their heads, and he crowd surfed his way back to the stage. At one point he tossed his mic out into the crowd. Here’s a video from the back that captured the action from a distance:
After audience members carry him back to the stage, and the band ends their song, Mars begins grabbing fans and yanking them up, inviting everyone to storm the stage. As he helped pull fans up, people also ran for it. Mars actually pulled on one of my friends’ arm, but he passed on the invitation.
It was a scary sight to see a swarm of indie rockers who were not necessarily in their best shape climbing the chest-high barrier to step over a wide chasm to the stage. Some would later regret it. I saw one girl take a nasty fall between the barrier and the stage. I thought I had just seen someone get crippled, but thankfully she got up. I think my wife may have saved a life, by telling another girl not to do it, telling her “you’re too fat.”
Those who made it to the stage smiled, jumped around, hugged band members, took pictures and many even trembled in a mix of fear and delight. I haven’t found YouTube video of the chaos after the music, but here is a closer (and louder) view of Mars crowd surfing right by someone’s camera, as he is carried back to the stage:
At the beginning of the other song I caught on video, “Rome,” Mars declares this as the last show of their tour (it also seems to look sharper than the first video I took, though the screaming around me is more intense):
It was a great show and nice to finally see a band who could push the limitations of the stage at the Fillmore in Miami Beach. As Phoenix heads off to the studio for their follow-up to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, maybe they will come back at a bigger venue, where they belong.
(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
October 28, 2010
MGMT are at a crossroads, and their problem came wholly to life during a live show at Miami Beach’s Fillmore theater the other night. The alternative pop/psych-rock outfit straddles a daring line by dabbling in progressive rock while also being responsible for constructing some all-too perfect disco-pop songs, which has hurtled them to the top of the charts. The execution of both forms and the reactions to both were on vivid display last night at the Fillmore.
First some context: When their second album, Congratulations, debuted earlier this year, it nearly unseated Justin Bieber’s album on the top of the Billboard charts, reaching number two but falling off steadily after. When the article appeared on Entertainment Weekly’s Music Mix blog, some fans of both Bieber and MGMT admitted to owning both albums.
What an unpleasant irony. MGMT have striven all along to be an art-rock group, and they have proven their knack for amazing music by constructing both groovy retro funk ditties like “Electric Feel” while also pulling off moody spacey-psych experiments like “Future Reflections,” both from their debut album Oracular Spectacular, which shot them to indie and even pop stardom.
In an article on Billboard.com, just ahead of the release of Congratulations, MGMT’s founding members, Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, expressed their apprehension of success and the pressures that come with the expectations for a band as successful as MGMT. What at first began as an ironic joke– mixing progressive music with a sure-handed approach to pop– has become a burden, and that drama visibly unfolded on Fillmore’s stage last night.
The all-ages show certainly attracted the rambunctious teenie boppers, as evidenced by the screams that greet and end each song I captured on video below. We tried to make it to the front with the aid of our fastlane tickets, but were overtaken by running kids who crushed us into the barricade. Despite ending up right up front, we gave up our spot to two small girls behind us and headed for the balcony to take in the show leaning back in chairs and calmly drinking beers.
The balcony provided a good view to take in the walkouts after “Electric Feel,” which segued into the two lengthiest songs of the night, an extended jam version of “the Handshake” followed by the epic “Siberian Breaks” from the new album.
One should not take these walkouts as a cynical commentary to the extended, artier songs of MGMT’s repertoire, but a reflection of the fair weather fans MGMT’s hits have attracted in its following, which do include some of the ignorant teen hipsters that saturated the place. Let’s face it, these teens are mostly clueless as to the groundwork that has informed MGMT’s music. I doubt most understand how fully Brian Eno’s early 70s albums, beyond the name of one of MGMT’s songs on Congratulations, has informed their aesthetic. But kudos to anyone who understands the reference to Oblique Strategies and what it has done to create great albums by David Bowie and Talking Heads, among others.
As “the Handshake” and “Siberian Breaks” provided the soundtrack to the emptying crowd, which included some neighbors next to me in the balcony, you can also hear some disinterested chattering during the quieter bits of these songs. Most people were not into it or did not get it. I for one, loved to hear them stretch “the Handshake,” which is under four minutes on Oracular Spectacular, to such epic length.
Listening to it all the way through, it might just be segueing into another song, but as far as I can tell, this added section only contains two lines “Keep your silence to yourself/You won’t forget yourself.”* Maybe this is the beginning of a new song, but in this context it totally worked like the epic coda of “Future Reflections.” If it is a new song, it’s a nice, long and spacey addition to MGMT’s repertoire, and also featured some great, over-the-top guitar soloing by James Richardson.
As for “Siberian Breaks,” I was only able to capture the first half before my memory card filled up. Still, it is a certain someone’s favorite part of the song, so here it is:
What you do not see in the video above is, toward the end of the 12-minute opus, when the song breaks down into dreamy burbles of noise, bassist Matt Asti walks away, and the band carries on. Then it’s off with “Kids,” which is all backing tracks! Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser take to the stage, mikes in hand, to dance around like a couple of b-boys and sing along, leaving drummer Will Berman and Richardson to mime along by tapping the sides of the drum kit, clearly a bit bored, though still smiling about the silliness of it all. Who knows? Maybe Ben and Andrew were even lip-synching to the song, and the only thing real was the crowd’s screaming during the break down of the song. The audience ate it all up, despite the fact that the band was trying to parody itself. A photographer did post a video of that night’s performance of “Kids” from down in the crowd, which you can see here.
It’s ironic that on their debut EP as MGMT, “Time to Pretend,” the duo threw in a snippet of “Only Time Will Tell” by eighties prog-poppers Asia in an early version of “Kids,” which closes off the EP. It’s an ironic reference to what was then a pop supergroup composed of luminaries from such previous prog-rock outfits like King Crimson and Yes . It might have been a send up then but now it might portend MGMT’s very own fate, unless they do something serious, like maybe just dropping the hits from the set-list and playing smaller venues? Radiohead refused to do “Creep” when it became a hit, and look how they turned out.
Another psych-rock band burdened by zeitgeist-defining hits is the Flaming Lips, but they never refuse their fans “She Don’t Use Jelly” or “Do You Realize.” But at least they pay respect to the songs while turning their sets into giant parties, even if they noodle on and on with crazy prog-rock bits (the parts I prefer). In my post about their recent live show in Orlando, the Flaming Lips certainly indulged in several songs from their new prog-heavy Embryonic. But, like those great early Genesis days with Peter Gabriel at the helm, they know how to turn the songs into spectacles.
Plus, when you see Wayne Coyne and his crew perform, you cannot help but feel the love he has for his fans, which transcends to life and humanity. Many tears flow from the fans when he sings “Do you realize you have the most beautiful face,” while also singing “Do You Realize that everyone you know someday will die,” and it’s not from fan-girl zeal but from a deeper reverent place in the soul.
Vanwyngarden definitely showed an effort to connect with the audience at Miami Beach’s Fillmore, but even when he I said, “I love you guys” to the crowd he had to tag on “I really mean that,” when he had his back turned to the audience. Despite this strained attempt at sincerity, what mattered is that these guys rocked the stage with true passion for their music. Having seen some MGMT performances prior, even on TV, when they just can’t seem tot get into it, I had reservations going in. But, that night, they had energy, and it showed, despite the crowd reaction and interaction. Still, there was something heavy hanging over the show.
In a lengthy review I wrote for Congratulations, I praised the band for their indulgence in the progressive side of their music. Though some have derided this second album from MGMT for not producing anything as catchy as “Electric Feel” or “Kids,” I think it is not for a lack of musical skill on the part of MGMT. I truly hope they continue to break away and continue listening to bands like Krautrock legends Cluster, as one of the band members admitted to in an NPR interview around Congratulations‘ release. Screw them walk outs, and keep rocking, MGMT.
*Edit: According to an MGMT fan on the MGMT Fan Forum this is a cover of Magazine’s “Burst,” which they have done live on other occasions. Looking it up, I found a live version by Magazine from 1978, and actually MGMT take the coda of that song, and tag on to “The Handshake” to great affect.
(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
October 20, 2010
A few days ago, Interpol, of all people/sources, shared a link to the new Pixies website, promoting a free 5-song EP of live Pixies tracks recorded on the night both groups played the Foro Sol stadium in Mexico City at a music fest, very recently. Here’s the text of the email I received:
“Excited doesn’t even begin to describe our feelings about sharing the stage with PIXIES at Foro Sol in Mexico City. There’s fond memories that accompany any song from any album of theirs…
PIXIES are kindly marking this occasion by giving some love back to Interpol fans.
You can download an EP of live tracks and a video here:
If you don’t own this already, don’t miss out. Seriously.
If you click through the link above you will arrive at a teaser for the official site for the Pixies. Once there you are asked to give up your email address. You’ll then get a zip file of the tracks (all Doolittle related) plus a video of that night’s performance of “La La Love You.”
But wait, there’s more! At the end of the video is a URL to even more free live Pixies mp3s at the portal to the new official Pixies webpage, which they plan to up-date with more live tracks once-a-week. So, Pixies freaks, take note, an entire free live concert to be had, depending on the week you visit! I got the May 1, 2005 Coachella show (20 tracks). It remains unclear whether repeat visits to this particular page will yield a free show once a week, as once a show debuts it then seems to be shelved on a page in the Pixies site where you have to buy the mp3 sets for $3.99 each. You can also get the shows on CDs for a shipping and handling charge.
As far as my view on the new live tracks from Mexico, the sound quality is professional. Though Black Francis’ voice isn’t what it used to be (besides age, that screaming he was so famous for had to have taken a toll), the band is tight and sounding as good as they always have.*
Now, my little brother-in-law saw this Mexico City show first-hand. He lurks this blog, I am often told. It’s time he commented to report back on this show… David?
Way back when the Pixies first re-united sometime in 2004 to tour the old music, my press contact for the band had told me there was talk about an all-new album. That never materialized. Now that the Pixies have re-united once again and are putting this effort into this new site, maybe some new material will come forth. Not that their current back catalog needs any enhancing, but it would be interesting if they could pull off some new material with all the original members together.
*I have seen the Pixies live in South Florida a couple of times: once during their 2004 tour and many years prior during their Trompe Le Monde tour (1993?), where even then they only played a large theater (the Cameo on Miami Beach). Their legend has since put them into grander venues.
October 16, 2010
Since I could not make the Boca Raton show this Saturday, I could not allow a chance to miss the Flaming Lips live, so we made the drive from Miami to Orlando on Thursday. It should go without saying that they did not disappoint. Anyone who has attended a Flaming Lips show knows it is much more than watching a group of guys on stage regurgitating their catalog of songs in a live setting. The Lips are an EXPERIENCE (yes, in all caps).
To warm up the Lips fans, who are always the freakiest audience (you’ll see lots of oddball costumes at a Lips show) but still one of the more polite concert crowds, Le Butcherettes took the stage. They did their nasty punk rock sound justice and singer/keyboardist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender threw herself about the stage in dramatic fashion on many occasions. Even though Ms. Bender sang in English, for some reason I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if Mexican electro-punk act Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser would open up for the Flaming Lips?” Wayne Coyne would later reveal Le Butcherettes actually hail from Mexico City. Here is a video I made of one of their songs, “Bang!”:
Coyne came off as utterly accessible throughout the show. He appeared on stage several times before his band began their show. He would first show up off stage to cheer on Le Butcherettes (and of course, stir up the audience). He would later thank the audience for so warmly receiving Le Butcherettes because, in his words, “Everyone knows the Flaming Lips has the best audience in the world.” He would also warn the audience of the light show they were about to behold because occasionally some people, including members of the Lips’ crew, might feel a bit ill with the brightness of some of their lights.
As the set up for the Flaming Lips stage continued, he and other band members would routinely show up on stage, with house lights on. It was the beginning of the warmest connection between artist and fan on a live stage I had ever experienced. There is no curtain or any notion of staginess to separate performer and fan at a Lips show. That’s why dressing up is encouraged among fans, and why Coyne rolls around in the audience in a plastic bubble, not to mention constantly assaulting the fans with balloons, confetti and streamers throughout the show. They even have groups of costumed dancers on either side of the stage, who seem to act as chaotic cheerleaders to the band and audience. A Flaming Lips live show is a communal experience.
When the show finally began, I had wondered whether we would see the same famously reported entrance of the group at such a small venue. Sure enough, the band brought their giant screen (akin to one of those things you see in stadiums so attendees in the nose bleed section might be able to see what they are missing on stage). As the music started, the band members made their way out from between the legs of a young woman projected on the screen, with Coyne make the last of the appearances, wrestling from a clear sac below the image. The sac then began to inflate in to a giant sphere. Soon enough Coyne jumped into the crowd, who would roll him about overhead. You can watch the latter part of this entrance in the video below, along with the first full song of the Lips’ show, “Worm Mountain.”
Continuing forth is more of the same from the Lips: epic, prog-rock moments interspersed with noise pop classics like “She Don’t Use Jelly.” I was happy to hear lots of the new songs from their amazing art-rocking new album Embryonic (I think it’s one of their best full-length albums ever, yes, even better than the oft-hyped Soft Bulletin). Here are all the rest of the videos I made of the Lips from that night, all are pretty much complete songs:
Here’s the song where Coyne brought out the giant hands linked to an array of laser lights:
Here’s an obscure tune they did from At War With the Mystics:
One last bit that adds to the coolness of the Lips for me, as a Krautrock fan: Their sound tech had an orange jumpsuit with the Neu! logo on it:
And then there was the mess to clean up afterward…
Oh, what the heck, there were a lot of great images captured at the show, here are more:
October 14, 2010
As established in my last post praising LCD Soundsystem, the bar for live alternative rock has been set high for the rest of the year, and quite possibly my lifetime. Vampire Weekend had a tough act a to follow because once you know their music, you know what to expect. There’s little room for extra groove and tangential surprises. In fact the only surprise for me came with opening act Beach House, who I never bothered to listen to, though many had recommended them to me. After seeing them live, I now see why.
The four members of Beach House took the stage shrouded in darkness and mostly illuminated by three large, throbbing illuminated pyramids, which sometimes created a visual effect of a cavern disappearing into infinity behind them. For some reason (poor sound or my altered state?) I could not understand a word Victoria Legrand sang with her husky, breathy voice. Her vocals carried memories of Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star or a mellow Liela Moss (of Duke Spirit), as she stroked the keyboard. The songs unfolded slowly and reverberated with undulating keyboards and mellow affected guitars, on a steady beat that poured out softly thanks to guest drummer Graham Hill use of soft timpani sticks on the kit. It was some beautiful, dreamy stuff. I videoed three songs here:
Then Vampire Weekend were on, and they brought energy and spunk to their songs on a very simple stage set-up with a couple of projected images for visuals. It was really about the music, and they did their songs respect. The crowd ate it up and sang along when ordered to do so. Not much else to say beyond that their performance was tight with a nice flow of songs culled from their two albums, their self-titled debut and Contra. I was able to video several songs; they are all complete:
This one got cut after my memory card got full:
October 10, 2010
This past Wednesday night marked the first of the concerts listed in an earlier posting I had the pleasure to attend: LCD Soundsystem and Sleigh Bells. Future bands appearing during this month in the Miami area have a tough act to follow. This could be one of the greatest straight-up live shows I have ever seen in Miami.
But before I get to the show, what’s crazy is that I almost skipped it altogether. I had heard of LCD Soundsystem and had been a fan of their first single, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” back in the day, but that was as far as my knowledge went with the band. I decided to at least check out the new album, This is Happening, by streaming it on my Napster account, to see what I might be missing. I was blown away almost immediately (and I have since picked up the vinyl, as you can see in the accompanying images). The album started mellow enough with mastermind James Murphy muttering the lyrics under the groovy patter of a drumbeat and sporadic cowbells. After the song meanders for about three minutes like this, a low-end, layered synth takes over the beat and Murphy starts yelling his words. The song winds along drenched in rhythmic bliss for nearly 10 minutes.
I was impressed but I would not be totally blown away until the fourth track, having tapped my toes to the next two tracks: “Drunk Girls,” which features a construction very similar to the Velvet Underground’s 1967’s “White Light/White Heat” even though it’s a rocking modern disco song, thanks to a synth hook that sounds almost as if pulled from the repertoire of early industrial groups like the Normal or Cabaret Voltaire. Meanwhile, “One Touch” has an electro groove (also with a kind of early 80s industrial feel) with Murphy taking his voice down an octave to give a serious, new romantic delivery. But “All I Want” was the track that both convinced me to see this band live or regret it for the rest of my life.
It’s been a while since I got chills listening to a song upon first listen– music that chokes me up to near tears in its gorgeous gorgeosity. The last time this happened was in the car listening to Tap Tap’s “100,000 Thoughts” for the first time, about a year and half ago. This truly only happens to me about once every two years or so. Sometimes it will take five years until I hear a song of this quality. Now add “All I Want” to that very short list of songs.
I was so overwhelmed by this track, that I could not help but halt in my writing of its praises as it played. I could not resist just stopping to listen, marveling at the layers of melodies and their luscious interplay. It caught me by total surprise. At first listen, my toe tapping involuntarily increased, then I was frozen by the music. “All I Want” begins with a short, soft groove that reminds me of Neu! But that only lasts a few seconds before a wall of sound envelopes everything with a guitar line that’s almost a note-perfect dupe of Robert Fripp’s work on the title track David Bowie’s 1977 album,“Heroes”, except there is a driving piano and propulsive beat under the thunderous wash of roaring guitars.
After I heard this track, I had to look up this album on Amazon, and of course, in the editorial description, I see “Musically inspired by late 1970′s David Bowie”– my favorite era by my favorite artist. After hearing only half of This is Happening, my love for this group was sealed, and further exploration of their back catalog did not disappoint. There is more than Bowie going on here, there are definite influences of Krautrock and the early new wave stylings of bands like Japan, Heaven 17 and even Pulp. I’d be remiss to not mention the Talking Heads influence on songs like “Pow Pow” and “Home,” which appear toward the end of This is Happening. I had to see this group live.
Although LCD Soundsystem never played “All I Want” during their Miami Beach stop at the Fillmore, the band turned out exceeding my expectations. The group made up for no “All I Want” with a fun, thrilling surprise of luscious musicality. To top it off, I was able to get front and center against the barrier thanks to the Fillmore’s brilliant creation of “Fast Lane” tickets. I barely had to wait in any lines to get to the front of the house doors, thanks to an extra $5.
But before LCD Soundsystem took the stage, the very capable opening act Sleigh Bells warmed up the audience. The duo have currently been riding a wave of positive indie press and even have a song featured in a car commercial. Contrary to what some think, in a couple of reviews I have read, singer Alexis Krauss did not lip synch. Those screeches were real. Granted, she did have a load of backing tracks, which included more vox. Guitarist and mastermind Derek Miller used guitar loops that he sampled with pedals on-stage.
The duo performed several songs from their debut LP Treats. Sometimes Miller would leave the stage and Krauss performed on her own with the sample box. Despite the harsh, noisy, beat-heavy music pouring from the stack of Marshall amps behind them, Krauss came of as personable and friendly. She liked leaning into the crowd to almost get lifted by the audience, but no one was carried away by the music to do anything too rash. The songs were quick and dynamic enough to make the set an enjoyable warm up before the headliners. I was able to make some videos from right up front:
Then, LCD’s entrance was heralded by dimmed lights, smoke machines and “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc playing over the speakers. The real music began with “Dance Yrself Clean,” as members of the seven-person group slowly trickled on stage, to take their musical parts. The song’s gradual build-up made for the perfect opener. I had hoped for this song as an opener since I first heard the album. Someone has put that very performance up on YouTube in its entirety. If you can get over the shaky camera work and singing along, here it is:
The dynamics in that song set the tone for every song after. The group of players would not let up the grooves and luscious melodies. One highlight had to be “All My Friends,” which began with its famous crazy, percussive, jittery piano melody. I was amazed that it was actually played live and did not come out from some sampling device. These players were super adept and recreating the luxuriousness of LCD’s music with keyboards, guitars, bass (that was Hot Chip bassist Al Doyle on stage) and an array of percussion.
The group of musicians were like a technically adept jam band without any of the indulgent noodling. The beat dominated. Three stations of drums on stage, symbolized that well. The group seemed to recall the musicality of live funk or disco music, but up-dated to the 21st century with some amazingly loud, distorted moments that recalled the crazier moments in post rock bands like Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor and Krautrock legends Neu! and Faust. Sometimes things became super distorted and noisy, but droning like the psychedelic insanity of Spacemen 3. Nothing ever fell apart into too much noise, as the band could pull it altogether and keep grooving along. The songs rewarded long attention spans in the interplay of dynamics, and there were many moments were I became lost in the groove and could not contain my feet from jumping and even did some slight moshing, something I had not done since I got lost in a giant mosh pit at the Miami Arena where Nine Inch Nails stopped during their Downward Spiral tour, back in like 1995.
The group certainly lost themselves in their music, as well. There was barely any personal connection with the audience. The only time singer and master songwriting James Murphy addressed the audience was to advise them to get out from behind their cameras and smart phones and just watch the show. If you’re behind a camera lens, you’re not really at the show, he said. Though he also said he had no problems with any YouTube videos of the show. As someone who video records at least a few songs at live shoes, I understand his comments. I’ve actually make less videos at live shows nowadays, and try to avoid recording my favorite songs for fear of missing out. In fact, his little speech came only after I recorded this one and only full-length video from the show, for “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”:
One more thing about Murphy’s stage presence, for a guy that has only released three albums since 2005, he seems to carry a beleaguered quality, and I’m not talking about the pot belly and the gray in his hair, which includes his face and chest. His music really leaps from references to Bowie, 70s disco, Talking Heads and, as I have already said, Krautrock and only probably gets as modern as Nine Inch Nails and Daft Punk.
There’s also a deep-seeded irony in his lyrics that can only came from a mind that knows mature self-deprecation (see songs like “I’m Losing My Edge”). His attitude is akin to super-informed rock legends like, Brian Eno, Lou Reed and Robert Fripp. He also gives an air of not giving a shit about theatrics (the most theatrical the show got besides the flashing wall of light boxes and smoke machines was the giant mirror ball that came at the end of the first set). He dressed in a simple, button up blue shirt and baggy trousers, probably just for comfort.
It’s all about the music for this guy and it shows and pays off in musicality of songs. I eagerly await whatever he comes out with next, as he as made no secret that This is Happening was LCD’s final album, and this was the group’s last tour. I consider myself blessed to have seen this outfit live, and I am shocked I almost allowed myself to miss it. A performance like this, which is all about the music, happens once in a blue moon. Though I look forward to up-coming shows by the Flaming Lips, MGMT, Caribou, Vampire Weekend and Phoenix this month alone, I really doubt I’ll be swept away as powerfully as this band took me.
“Dance Yrself Clean”
“Yr City’s a Sucker”
“Daft Punk is Playing at My House”
“I Can Change”
“All My Friends”
“You Wanted a Hit”
“Losing My Edge”
October 7, 2010
I had hoped to get something written up here by now, but after one single-spaced page exploring how LCD Soundsystem’s new album, This is Happening, won me over before I even finished listening to the entire thing, and barely anything on the live show (so far), I offer this teaser photo. Check back here soon (tomorrow?) for my thoughts on the album and one of the most potent live shows I have seen since I got lost in a giant mosh pit at the Miami Arena, when Nine Inch Nails kicked off their Downward Spiral tour back in 1995. Not to mention more pics and videos!