If you like watching musicians sweat, LCD Soundsystem has got to be the best touring band out there right now, pore for pore. Saturday night, they leveled an equally sweaty crowd at Brooklyn’s Studio B, the warehouse-shaped industrial fun barn in Greenpoint. The LCD live experience continues to amaze, turning the punk-disco songs on Sound of Silver into full-blooded, fire-breathing electrofunk monsters. Singer/cowbeller/evil genius James Murphy, Moog wizard Nancy Whang, bass stud Phil Skarich, Hot Chip’s Alan Doyle on guitar, Les Savy Fav’s Pat Mahoney on drums — they attack “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” and “North American Scum” with a ferocity that makes the studio versions sound mellow, with nary a laptop or latte in sight.
Saturday night, they turned “All My Friends” into a passionately gargantuan epic on the scale of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” except with even sadder lyrics. (Alas, despite some wishful-thinking rumors, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, a part-time Greenpoint resident, did not show up onstage to sing it, but Franz Ferdinand’s stunning cover is a highlight of the upcoming “All My Friends” single release.) Sound of Silver is easily my most-played album of the year so far, but live, LCD never fail to surprise. They it seem so simple and so obvious, throwing away complex effects other bands work so hard to achieve.
Murphy introduced “Yeah” with the none-too-shocking confession that he’d started drinking a little early that evening. “If we stay onstage, at least one of the band is gonna vomit,” Murphy explained. “I know that sounds punk as fuck, but if you’ve ever vomited onstage you know it sucks. So after we play this song, we’re going away, but this is not an encore. It’s a non-vomit break. Clap or don’t clap, we don’t care — we’re coming back.” Then they played “Yeah,” and damn if Murphy didn’t vomit onstage in the middle of playing his timbales solo! Or so it looked from my perch — maybe he just spat up a little? Anyway, it was punk as fuck. Not the vomit so much, but the way the primal rush of “Yeah” built up into a cover of Paperclip People’s Detroit-techno hymn “Throw,” with Murphy’s boozy falsetto reverberating through the room as the buzzing and hissing synths echoed Machine’s 1979 disco epic “There But For The Grace Of God Go I.” Then they ran offstage to hurl.
The three-song encore was “Someone Great,” the song I will be playing the rest of my life whenever I want to remember the spring of 2007, which I will. It crunched into their thrashed-out cover of Joy Division’s “No Love Lost.” When LCD started doing this song live, it made me sad because they were no longer ending shows with their always-amazing cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire.” Except at every LCD show, it becomes more clear that “Jump Into the Fire” and “No Love Lost” are the same song, complete with the same drum solo. I love how the rest of the band all crowds around during that drum solo to watch Pat Mahoney’s hands to see if he can pull it off. Saturday night, he did, and I stared at his hands too. They were sweaty.