In 2006, I celebrated my 18th birthday by throwing a huge dance party in the basement of my childhood home with all my high school friends. In preparation for the bash I spent a few hours the day before cleaning: I scoured the walls, excavated years of dust and cobwebs from the corners, and stuffed homeless junk behind the furnace, all to the tune of LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled 2005 debut album.
Now, I remember this epic clean every time I listen to that album, but especially “Yeah (Crass Version)”, because when that particular song came on as I was cleaning, I dropped my dustrag and had my own private rager all over the basement. I danced so hard that my ankles still felt a twinge the next day when the real party started. It was a time when I was still too self-conscious to really let loose on the dance floor, but I was blissfully alone in that basement, and the only thing that kept me from throwing myself in the air as high as I could was the low, nail-studded, splintery ceiling.
But at the Philadelphia Naval Yard on Friday night, when LCD ended their main set with “Yeah”–sustaining that climactic noisejam of bells and static we know and love so much, through green fog and strobelights and James Murphy’s shrilly chest-popping affirmatives (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah)–lets just say it’s a good thing everyone around me was as ecstatically transported out of body as I, because I think I came crashing down on more than few toes in my jumps for joy.
Which makes me think of this guy near us at the beginning of the show. I can’t remember his name, but I should, because he was introducing himself to everyone around him. We’ll call him Oscar. Oscar told us all how happy he was we were all here together, that LCD Soundsystem was his favorite band, and so on. He was definitely on drugs, but his giddiness was contagious. When the band finally dribbled onstage one by one to start laying down the slow bongos, bells, handclaps, and the steady thud of an alternating major third bassbeat that opens “Dance Yrself Clean”, this dude starting apologizing in advance for any injuries caused by his impending loss of control: “When the beat drops, I’m gonna go nuts,” he said.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfect opener at a live show than this song–that aforementioned drop is so agonizingly delayed (3:08 in the album version) that the entire venue couldn’t help but go totally bananas when it did. Our friend Oscar needn’t have worried about the casualties of his own wayward limbs in that free-for-all.
“Dance Yrself Clean” is the first song on the most recent album, This Is Happening. LCD followed up with “Drunk Girls,” also a new track, then “Get Innocuous” from 2007’s Sound of Silver. I was totally jazzed by all this, but starting to worry they might leave older tunes aside to please an audience drawn from a newer fanbase. This worry was promptly dispelled, however, when they followed “Get Innocuous” with “Yr City’s a Sucker”. My assumption about the crowd seemed accurate, though, as there appeared to be a disappointing lack of audience recognition for the song, and hence of singing (i.e., shrieking–“a career in the HA HA HA HA!”) along.
Still, the band and its beats know how to take a crowd of indie-rock kids to that ecstasy I mentioned. By the time they got to “All My Friends” a few tunes later, it was like James Murphy et al (the band that evening included Patrick Mahoney, Gavin Russom, and others whose names I can’t recall) had taken us all to a green dimension composed purely of party energy and noise, where a drunk twenty-something might land on your head and you just don’t care. And to be sure it wasn’t just the songs they chose to play that took us there, but the order in which they were played: Murphy’s talents as a DJ and record-producer were evident in spades in the way the set rolled out one bombshell after another. Each song seemed perfectly chosen to follow the one before it, sometimes beat-matching when it worked perfectly (“You Wanted a Hit” into “Tribulations” was a seamless, delightful surprise), sometimes just bringing it down a notch when the crowd had to catch its breath a little (e.g. “I Can Change” after “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”).
The one thing that continues to surprise me–to no end of pleasure when I think about it, which I’ve spent a lot of time doing since Friday night–is that “Yeah”, which I’ve long held to be the greatest dance song in the world, was topped for sheer glee-inducing awesomeness by “Losing My Edge” in middle of the three-song encore. With James Murphy standing up there in a metallic white spotlight, hair graying, gone a little paunchy, sounding off his record collection and telling us about those better looking, more talented people who are really, really nice, I couldn’t help but thinking I was looking at the coolest person that ever lived.
LCD Soundsystem at Making Time 10th Anniversary Celebration
Philadelphia Naval Yard
September 24, 2010
MAIN SET LIST:
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