Live DC: LCD Soundsystem @ The Anthem

Photos by Armando Gallardo, Words by Jose Lopez-Sanchez

The years of hard partying are finally catching up to all of us, although LCD Soundsystem are trying to pick up where they left off.

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Despite a rusty start, James Murphy and company were as great as they ever were. We often forget about the punk side to LCD Soundsystem’s music, but at a live show it’s front and center; this band creates a hair-raising wall of sound, layering waves and waves of rich bleeps, bloops, and dissonant guitars over crashing drum rhythms. James Murphy’s caterwaul is augmented by Nancy Whang and Al Doyle singing alongside, ensuring songs like “Someone Great” and “Home” felt like anthems. The band really hit their stride by the time they blared out “Tribulations” – a cathartic song of self-forgiveness, from a band that makes music reminiscent of a computer’s anxiety attack.

Throughout the night, Murphy’s exchanges with the crowd left very little to mystery – he made it clear that there would be some new material, and an encore, and all in all was the sardonic master of ceremony reflected in his lyrics. However, the intra-band banter was pretty special; it was as if they were all enjoying a private joke throughout the set. It wasn’t quite Jonathan Richman-esque, but you had the sense that they’d be doing the same damn thing if they were playing to an empty room. This was a group of friends making noise because they like to make noise.

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Speaking of empty rooms, although The Anthem was at total capacity, it felt like many of those in attendance were expecting the National Symphony Orchestra. It’s not to shit on D.C. crowds. That’s a tired sport, I sound like an old man yelling at a cloud, and ultimately achieves nothing. However, given the buzz surrounding this show, and this band, people would at least be a little more animated than standing shuffles for the first hour. For fuck’s sake, their music was the soundtrack to so many late nights and sketchy dance parties and I love yous that we should be able to muster up a little more than gentle swaying for half the show. People eventually loosened up as they got more booze in their system, and by the end of the night there was plenty of the raucous, goofy flailing I’ve come to expect from any group of white folks dancing. But it was a hot (and pricey) ticket at the cool new venue; the place to see and be seen. That’s always going to attract a certain kind of person.

I guess the drugs aren’t what they used to be. Molly has been replaced by Motrin – bad backs and tight hips will make sure of it.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking about going tonight – go, don’t take yourself too seriously, and have some fucking fun.

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