You really gotta feel for LCD Soundsystem -- fresh off the "dance-punk" darlings' conquest of Coachella, bopping untold thousands of the dehydrous ecstatic, there they were the next day, at Mezzanine, playing big to a relatively teensy roomful of adoring fans. Adoring fans, in SF's case, meant a whole lotta surprisingly hoochie mamas grinding against their frattish dates' pelvises (hot, but weird!) and the cream of our post-electroclash scene. Going in, I'd made a joke to my homeboy that the group's hirsute leader, James Murphy, was probably the superstar aspiration pinnacle of every sensitive tweaker bear who fiddles mindlessly with ambient-electronic music in their room -- and sure enough, there was a fair representation of them as well.
LCD's trick, of course, is to trap you in a labyrinth of esoteric postpunk sonic references ("Oh! that bass line's from 'Lucinda' by A Certain Ratio!" "Wait a minute! That synth riff's from Heaven 17" "Help! They're doing Steve Reich!"). In the vid for the new single, "All My Friends," Murphy even slathers on Peter Gabriel's cyber-centurion Genesis Ziggy Stardust ripoff makeup, eek.
Not exactly a new trick, the postpunk labyrinth (cf. Bloc Party, et al). But LCD does it so damn tight , wound around a Talking Heads/Gang of Four/The Fall core, that all the name-game falls away and you just get into it, man, like a Tin Lizzy sex machine ....
Live, it's all ever so much better -- the grooves beefed up and extended into underground disco heat codas, Murphy's voice full of more tiny chirps, yelps, and howls than can be found on record (or in Amazon), and the five-member band unspooling beats from their somewhat anal programming into full-on stomps with chants. Songs like "Tribulations" and "North American Scum" became ultimate, hands-in-the-air singalongs, "Daft Punk (Is Playing at My House)" got seriously metalled, and the air turned that weird red-blue of a steamy, late-night dancefloor during some of the more extended jams.
The evening may have not completely launched into the stratosphere (LCD seemed a tad exhausted, and who can blame them), but there was enough dust and crackle whipped up on the dancefloor to fuel a few million watts os starpower.