The first name in dance-punk played the Orpheum last Saturday night, where the details and additions made the difference.
“Sometimes friends are jerks,” sang James Murphy Saturday night at the Orpheum, eliciting an audible gasp from the audience. They'd been singing along with “Dance Yrself Clean” word for word, and were tripped up by the lyric swap--one of only a few changes LCD Soundsystem made between their Voodoo set Friday and their Orpheum show. Many of the near-sell-out crowd had paid top dollar to attend both, but no one seemed to mind too much.
Variety has never been the spice of LCD, or of dance music in general, which can sometimes make listening in non-social settings tedious. The opposite is true live. The band’s songs bleed together beautifully, united by pulsing grooves that make the whole show feel like one long, gorgeous mix.
Not surprisingly, many members of the eight-piece band also DJ in their spare time, and two of them played local sets over the weekend. Electronic composer and analog synth designer Gavin Rayna Russom performed at Poor Boys Friday night after LCD’s Voodoo set, and keyboardist Nancy Whang played a very late-night set at the Ace Hotel's Three Keys after the band’s midnight show at the Orpheum. Both of these sets would be worthy of considerable buzz, even without the backdrop of two full-band shows. It was clear that LCD came to New Orleans this past weekend ready to play. Rather than a notch on their proverbial festival belt, Voodoo became a launching pad for LCD to immerse themselves in the city, if only for two nights.
The Orpheum set comprised songs spanning LCD’s impressive catalog, evenly spread throughout the evening. The band surprised fans by starting promptly at midnight with “Us v Them,” a track they hadn’t played live for a month. Other than that, the touchstones of the show were mostly the same as those of their Voodoo set. Certified classics like “I Can Change,” “Get Innocuous,” “You Wanted a Hit,” and of course, “Someone Great,” were intermingled with less time-tested tracks from their recent album, American Dream.
It was already 1:30 a.m. and 14 songs into the set list when LCD paused after Chic's "I Want Your Love,” which they covered at Voodoo as well. “We’ll be back to play a few more songs,” Murphy said before stepping off stage, averting the obligatory behavior of an encore everyone knew was coming.
Because of the band’s straightforwardness, and also because the ensuing finale lasted about an hour, the band's remaining time on stage felt less like an encore and more like Act II. It gave them the chance to play “Oh Baby” and “Emotional Haircut,” two new tracks that were sorely missed at Voodoo, before they finished with their biggest standards, “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends.”
The show lasted well over two hours, and there were only a few fleeting moments of audience interaction, but somehow, it never dragged and felt deeply personal throughout. Maybe it was the perfect synchronicity LCD displayed, breezing through deep textures and tricky syncopations as one massive unit. Maybe it was the way Murphy introduced each member of his band, like a proud father, lingering on percussionist Korey Richie to shout out his hometown of Lafayette, which was met with emphatic approval. Whatever it was, it made for an excellent show.
As Murphy grows older and grayer and the times we live in grow more troubling, LCD Soundsystem’s music remains as joyful as ever. The live show, after a five-year hiatus, is even better than the rumors, and the way things are going for them, the party isn’t nearly over yet.