Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LCD Soundsystem a Sensational Sensory Blast, Even If It's Their Last -- Concert Review

Concert Review

LCD Soundsystem
with Hot Chip
Riviera Theatre, Chicago
October 26, 2010

Including last night's show by LCD Soundsystem, I have seen 19 rock concerts this year. All but three have been by artists I had seen (or could have) 10 years ago or more, and I had seen Muse and Keane--the only other relative newcomers----previously.

Thus, LCD Soundsystem is the only truly modern artist to newly inspire me to get a ticket and check them out. My decision to do so was fairly last minute at that, as although I have and like their last two albums (of a total of three full albums dating back to 2005, all highly acclaimed) and had heard they were very good at Lollapalooza this year, I wasn't about to put myself in the midst of a dance floor frenzy by attending Monday night's show at the Aragon. I didn't even know they were playing a second show at the Riv until I saw last Friday's Chicago Tribune article about setlists, which included LCD brainchild James Murphy discussing his set list strategy. (This is Greg Kot's rave review of Monday's show, including a setlist quite similar or exact to Tuesday's.)

Although the Riviera is also a general admission venue, there is a balcony full of seats, so I bought a ticket on Sunday for Tuesday night's show. As I'll explain, I really enjoyed it, but before I even got there, I read on the internet that Murphy plans to completely stop touring--and scale back LCD Soundsystem altogether--after it finishes a run of international dates.

So amidst an age where not a lot of new rock artists are exciting me, I finally get hip to one that does, and caught the last concert it will ever play in America. (At least theoretically, as musical retirements are rarely rock solid.) I'm glad I did, as it was one of the best concerts I've seen this year and far better than those by Muse and Keane in the realm of something current. And yet, if Murphy changes his mind and tours again in the next 2-3 years, I doubt I'd feel much need to see LCD Soundsystem again.

In a very generic sense, both LCD and opener Hot Chip seem to have taken the alternative rock/dance groove meld best exemplified by The Killers and Franz Ferdinand and swung the equation more in favor of the grooves. But while Hot Chip's hourlong opening set seemed to hinge on one continuously propulsive beat--they weren't bad, but were best on songs I knew like Over & Over and Ready for the Floor (video here, and yes, they sound a lot cooler than they look)--the talented Mr. Murphy has structured enough diversity into LCD that their mix of rock and electronica avoids sounding repetitive or derivative. I can hear echoes of acts like Talking Heads, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths, Kraftwerk and Prodigy without really being able to cite clear examples. 

While LCD boasts a strong and diverse arsenal of songs--including All My Friends, which Pitchfork ranked #2 among their Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s--I enjoyed them much more on a visceral and sensory level, as they lived up to the audiovisual duality of their name with a feast for ears, eyes and groove things (even an old fart like me was on my feet the entire show, though mainly because everyone else in the balcony was and I wanted to see).

If not my favorite concert of the year--as I just haven't become that deep a fan--it certainly was the coolest, despite the stocky Murphy continuing the trend of front men who look more like their fans than the rock gods of old. But the highest praise I can really give any performer is that they delivered a concert every bit as good as I could have hoped, and LCD Soundsystem did that last night.

But satisfied, not needing to hear any specific songs that might have been left out and not anticipating future shows would be all that different, I'm not ruing their live retirement all that much. Once was probably enough, and there's always YouTube (I'm glad there was a clip to share below, but also applauded when Murphy suggested to the denizens of  camera phone videographers--including me, I'll admit--"Why don't we try to just be here").

I just hope someone else comes along that captures my interest or pretty soon there will be no one for me to see, at least in a rock 'n' roll vein. Suggestions?


Anonymous said...

I happened to stumble across your comments searching for a review of the second show. I am so glad I went Tuesday night too!! I went to Milwaukee Friday night. The show was at the Eagle Ballroom. I hate the venue and it ruined the concert experience. The Riv, though hot, was so much better. I am an old fart too and sat in balcony and the acoustics were so much better than Eagle Ballroom, but not perfect. I had not been able to see LCD live because of scheduling problems or sold out. So happy to catch them before they quit touring. I agree with your many of your comments. However, there there are some good fresh acts out there, you have to get out and go to small venues. Will check your columns in future.

Seth Arkin said...

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I used to go to a bunch of shows at the Eagles Ballroom, but haven't been there for awhile and can imagine the Riv was more comfortable.

I am always interested in exploring artists I should know about; if you have specific recommendations about "good fresh acts" please share them.