There is a surreality attached to the knowledge that LCD Soundsystem has a new album out and are currently wrapping up a five-night residency at the Hollywood Palladium. It was only six years ago that James Murphy and company gave what the world believed was their final concert in their spectacularly short-lived run as a band, leaving with only three sublime albums under their collective belts. So adding to the laundry list of the strangeness of the past year is the very real return of LCD Soundsystem, which exploded last year in a string of festival appearances but was poignantly driven home when they announced the Hollywood Palladium dates as well as a massive ten night showing at Brooklyn Steel. Fueled by a burgeoning nostalgia and the already wistful enamoring of American Dream, LCD Soundsystem took to the stage Friday night with a shiny new setlist and disco ball to put the very walls of the Hollywood Palladium to the test with their blown-out sonics.
Opening with the synth-bathed rumblings of, “oh baby,” Murphy poured out his gentle croons over the crowd, laying every breathy sigh with a delightfully melancholic gusto before jumping head first into the shimmering lamentations of, “I Can Change.” A band known for its tenderly layered compositions, an LCD Soundsystem show is a crisp collection of individual melodies, tones, and synthesizer glitter all wrapped in just the right amount of crass static noisiness. Their soundscapes are as sparse as they are heavily populated by lush textures, so you hear every note built upon the other as they crescendo from whispers to thundering extravagance. The best example of this always comes with, “Dance Yrself Clean,” as light percussion taps dance coyly with Nancy Whang’s keyboard playing right before it explodes into a brash dissonance of synthesizer madness.
But for every wildly twisted, synth-enforced moment of crazed dancing that ensues with songs like, “Get Innocuous!” and “You Wanted a Hit,” at an LCD Soundsystem show, there is an equally rollicking rock anthem to go with it. For what has seemed like all eternity that spot has been filled by the enormity of their final song, “All My Friends,” which has been ending their shows since it was released and bringing into a tangible form such feelings of bittersweet nostalgia. Now there’s, “call the police,” an equally ambitious, zeitgeist-like memento that trades piano gallops for rapid percussion accompaniment and glowing guitars you can practically see light-up whenever that riff hits. Goosebumps truly abound at an LCD Soundsystem show, for the songs you know and especially the ones you don’t, there’s an instantaneous combustion of the soul that Murphy and company somehow ignite whether you know the words or not. On the eponymous track, “American Dream,” the entire venue engaged in a slow-dance with a spiraling grip on sanity, one viewed through the glazed over eyes of existential dread tossed between glimmering cascades of synth flutters. As Murphy wails (“And you can’t remember the meaning / But there’s no going back against this California feeling”) he holds between his teeth the very essence of LCD Soundsystem’s sublime hold on the emotions of its fans, their songs operating in that vaporous realm of feeling and memory.
Tackling the ruinous aftermaths of age and time has always been the band’s challenge of choice, allowing fans to ruminate gently on its tarnishing of love in songs like, “Someone Great,” or shake the burdens madly off with the cowbell twitterings of the impossibly danceable, “Home.” An LCD Soundsystem show is a catharsis through dance and a purging of troubled minds via manic sonics, one that always erupts with the sound of the crowd musing harshly about seeing all their friends tonight, Murphy’s croon bleakly, Whang’s fingers hammering piano keys–and then quiet. Followed by roaring applause, Murphy’s characteristically meek but loving goodbyes, and the sudden rush of adrenaline at the realization that LCD Soundsystem is back.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward