By: Alex Wood
Photos: @mattdean, @slacker_sully, @wyusa, @broadcastjunkie, @creativespacecadet
LCD Soundsystem reunited and announced a headlining spot closing out the fourth and final night of Lollapalooza’s 25th anniversary.
Obviously, expectations were high.
As a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem, and one of many whom didn’t catch the band live prior to their recent reunion, I’d been waiting for a Midwest date for months and, to be completely frank, Lollapalooza wasn’t my preferred setting for seeing one of my favorite bands.
I’m one of the few music fans in Chicago that doesn’t attend Lollapalooza, creating a predicament. Sunday’s lineup featured almost no bands I had interest in seeing outside of LCD’s headlining set.
Having seen the band in a festival setting at Bonnaroo in June and separate DJ sets from James Murphy and Nancy Whang in the last year, I was torn on whether Lollapalooza was truly a performance I needed to attend.
I held off on purchasing a Lollapalooza pass, prepared to make an expensive last minute decision with the desperation of a diehard fan.
And then the aftershows were announced a week before the festival.
The band would play two nights at the Metro, a venue they played in the past with an astonishingly small 1,100-person capacity. Tickets became amongst the most sought after in recent years in the city, only enflamed by a paperless, ID-required policy.
When I locked in tickets for Friday night the day of the show, I was in disbelief.
Shaking. Pacing. Adrenalin high.
Every part of the Metro’s scene screamed LCD Soundsystem. Doors opened hours before the band took stage, a DJ performing house music from the balcony, a sense of excitement amongst the crowd growing like a crescendo with the DJ’s mix.
Vintage synthesizers and keyboards littered the tiny stage, with percussion instruments and drum sets, guitars and microphones and a number of instruments and tools I couldn’t possibly identify taking up every open space. A disco ball hung high above the stage.
As the band’s members slowly took stage, the now packed crowd’s cheering was deafening.
“Us v Them” opened the set with a well-paced, thumping beat, and the dancing began. With layers of vocals and the band’s members entering and exiting the mix as needed, the song constantly grew to its massive, epic conclusion.
Each live LCD song functions this way, a well-calculated composition performed by an unbelievably tight band, the sheer force of the songs packing more energy than one could imagine before experiencing it.
Though the band dressed casually, with James and Nancy’s hair noticeably disheveled, they were obviously excited to be playing the intimate venue, noting its importance in their past.
The setlist seemed to grow increasingly more upbeat, with older tracks “Tribulations” and “Movement” hitting explosive levels. Continuing the run of songs from their self-titled debut, “Yeah” hit a peak for the band, Murphy screaming the words into the microphone by its conclusion, the backing band adding dark, murky layers of synthesizers for an intentionally trippy ending. The swinging disco ball provided a perfectly simple lighting for the show throughout.
Murphy was surprisingly talkative throughout the night, and adamantly opposed to photography and videos.
“You don’t have to see the back of our laptops, we shouldn’t have to see the back of your cell phones,” he said cleverly.
LCD classics “Someone Great” and “Losing My Edge” were performed back to back, followed by “Home” and “New York,” using the last songs from two separate albums to mark a clear end to the normal set.
Without delay, the band launched into the beginning of “Dance Yrself Clean,” the song’s opening, percussive synthesizer part operating on the audience like a Pavlov dog, everybody ecstatic, knowing what’s to come.
The song’s massive harmonies create a sing-along of epic proportions, while the breakdown midway through creates an immediate dance party. The track finds Murphy truly giving his all, and justifies his abilities as a frontman.
“All My Friends” closed the set with a song that is arguably amongst the best recordings of the last decade, its subtle growth a perfect conclusion to the evening and last call for dancing.
Two nights later, LCD would perform an identical setlist at Lollapalooza. While this may seem repetitive, it occurred to me after Friday’s show that I’d likely have enjoyed the festival set as much as the Metro show.
The sound would of course be better at the Metro, and getting to be close to the band on stage is an incredible and rare opportunity. Yet the band’s carefully designed, calculated sound and setlist is perfect for the festival setting, an intense light show behind stage replacing the simple, singular disco ball.
Sure, the band was excited to play at the Metro again, but I’m sure they were excited to be performing to 100,000 people at Grant Park, too.
I guess in the end, I’m just happy to have LCD Soundsystem back, and the three Lollapalooza-related shows made for a perfect return to Chicago.
Watch videos from the Metro and Lollapalooza and read the full setlist below.
"Time To Get Away" at The Metro:
"You Wanted A Hit / Tribulations" at Lollapalooza:
"Dance Yrself Clean" at Lollapalooza:
1. Us v Them
2. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
3. I Can Change
4. Get Innocuous!
5. You Wanted A Hit
9. Someone Great
10. Losing My Edge (with "Da Funk" by Daft Punk interpolation)
12. New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
13. Dance Yrself Clean
14. All My Friends