Concert review: LCD Soundsystem inspires dancing, nostalgic waxing while Sleigh Bells opens pop noisy at Hard Rock Live, Orlando (photos included)

[image-1]So that's how I ended up at Hard Rock Live in Orlando this past Tuesday night with my husband and a couple of very good friends in the half-full venue in the midst of a crowd that included more than a few other Tampa Bay area folks who’d made the 80-minute drive, then the annoying 20-minute walk from parking garage to the Hard Rock’s doors.


I ended up enjoying myself immensely; dance music as delivered by a full band is generally more appealing and entertaining than DJ’d or laptop-centric fare, the instruments and players providing a wider range of sonic layers and textures into the mix as well as an overall fuller and richer sound. Add a tasteful-flashy light show, an audience that’s moving and shaking and having a grand old time, and an engaging frontman, and you’ve got yourself one damn fine LCD show.


Murphy seemed to be in high spirits and came off as comfortable as he spouted or shouted verses as if having a conversation in the middle of a loud room, or offered a sort of crooned-sung or even low-uttered stream-of-consciousness delivery, and was sometimes joined in harmonies and choruses by his support-singing band members, which included pretty vocalist/keyboardist/synth mistress Nancy Whang (also of the Juan Maclean, pictured above), Pat Mahoney (formerly of Les Savy Fav) on beats, synths and vox, guitarist David Scott Stone, and Al Doyle (Hot Chip) on synths and percs. The backdrop was a huge luminescent screen that went from a blank gray to glowing with colored hues ranging from magnetic pink to electric blue, a rig of vertical rows of stadium lightbulbs flashing in bursts of bright against it.


[image-2]Instead of focusing primarily on their latest release, the band pulled generously from all three albums. Among my own personal highlights were the show's opening trio of songs, the first two also the lead-off tracks from 2010’s This Is Happening and played consecutively beginning with “Dance Yrself Clean,” its simple percussive beat and vocals slow-building to an explosion of fuzzed out synthesizers and driving rhythms followed by the peppy pop-tastic party vibe of official first single “Drunk Girls,” which I kind of hated at first but liked well enough to dance a little when it came on. Then came "Get Innocuous!” from 2007's Sound of Silver, its stealthy helicopter beats and retro synths prompting me to scribble “Terminator rave time” on my notepad. (We’re talking the original 1984 version, people.) Of course, when they launched into “All My Friends,” I was brought back to New Orleans (see the first few rambling paragraphs), and I did some honest-to-goodness rug-burning when the post-punk, hand-clapping fun of "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” (from LCD's 2005 eponymous debut) filled the room with its funky relentlessness.


The dance party was in full swing by the show’s end and picked right back up when the band returned for an encore that closed with the ironic “Losing My Edge” followed by the nostalgic “Home,” both coming off as funny, poignant and a little bit sad in light of the band’s uncertain future.


A series of unfortunate events caused us to get to Hard Rock later than I'd anticipated, and we arrived with only enough time to see the last song of Sleigh Bells’ opening set. The NYC noise pop/punk duo comprised of vivacious singer Alexis Krauss (pictured below) and guitarist Derek Miller gave off waves of frenetic energy and earsplitting sonics, but sadly, that’s pretty much all I got from it. I was damn disappointed to have missed so much but intrigued enough by what I saw to put them on my “must see/must write about again” radar...


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More photos by Darryl:


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My first introduction to LCD Soundsystem was at the tail end of a New Orleans Jazz Fest all-nighter, one of those stretches that begins with live music and segues into some post-show bar shenanigans followed by the inevitable retreat to a hotel room to listen to more music and talk about it and other things that seem crucial as the dusky hours lighten to the time when free breakfast is served and you’re nearly done in but amped up on good conversation and motivated enough to continue it in the dining room while making 2-minute waffles and drinking not-right orange juice and attempting to fit in with the folks who are up at this hour on purpose and really messing up your reality with their probing bright-eyed stares that you are avoiding at all costs… [LCD's James Murphy pictured below right; all photos by Darryl Richardson.]

But anyway, back to my vivid memory of the first time I really became aware of LCD Soundsystem — the 6:26 a.m. light filtering in through the window, me cocooned in a nest of blankets and Marriott-fluffy pillows in a contented half-doze as my husband and another music fan build upon a barely-two-day-old friendship that’s been sped up by proximity (the guy’s in the same hotel as us) and shared taste in music (we’d all gone to a few of the same shows the past few nights). We had the iPod on shuffle and a song came on and new friend commented, “Ahhh, LCD Soundsystem … nice” and then he said something about it being so apropos and I didn't really know what he was talking about because I didn’t know the name of the song at the time (“All My Friends”), but I’d heard it a handful of times already via other random iPod shuffles. It used to remind me of Brian Eno; after I learned its name and really listened to the lyrics, the song took on new meaning for me and now I think of that morning when I hear it, instead.

But though I always liked LCD Soundsystem enough to pay attention to what they were doing, I never really became more than a passing fan, familiar enough but never truly won over. When I heard that LCD's visionary songwriter, producer and vocalist James Murphy was dissolving his dance punk project after only three albums (going out happy with a great last record and all that jazz), I smothered the initial impression I had of 2010’s This Is Happening (wasn’t a fan, didn’t get it), gave it a few more listens and actually got to digging a few tracks. I realized their Orlando stop might be the last chance I’d get to see them in action and I do like a good electro show and reliable sources told me the band was particularly great this tour and suggested I definitely check them out.

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