Concert Reviews

Last Night: LCD Soundsystem and Holy Ghost! at the Palladium Ballroom

LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost!
Palladium Ballroom
June 9, 2010

Better than:
pretending to be too cool for this shit.

For someone who's made a career out of his cooler-than-thou persona, LCD Soundsystem frontman and mastermind James Murphy sure is a weird dude. But maybe that's exactly what gives him such an aura of cool.

On stage last night at the Palladium Ballroom, over the course of his band's 90-minute or so performance, Murphy mostly mumbled lazily and nonchalantly--both during his performances and his between-song banter.

To his credit, far as the songs are concerned, that's half their draw. Also to his credit, far as the banter was concerned, it made for some legitimate laugh-out-loud moments.

Take, for instance, a moment early in the night when Murphy, frustrated with his microphone, asked a stage hand to run out and give him a replacement: When the microphone was finally delivered, Murphy feigned (or so it seemed) discontent again.

"No!" he shouted. "You're breaking the fourth wall!"

Obviously, it was a joke. But, then again, his observation could be applied about Murphy's own songs and the way his lyrics are at once intelligent commentary and gripping satire--fourth wall breakers, to be sure.

Just as his songs do on record, Murphy's live presentation of his catalog seemed mostly half-hearted, perhaps too concerned with the slacker sheen that, well, makes them so cool in the first place.

It's a weird thing at play with this band--a sort of reluctant stardom, one absolutely at play in Murphy's claims that his third LCD Soundsystem record, the just-released This Is Happening, will also be the band's last. After all: How big can you become before all you've worked for becomes a moot satire of itself?

So far in its career, LCD has been able to toe this line. And maybe, in that sense, it was a good thing that this show, which drew almost 2,000 to the Palladium but hardly sniffed at the room's capacity, wasn't sold out. Had it been, "Losing My Edge," perhaps as close as close a primer on how to be a underground music fan in modern times as this generation has, certainly would've seemed out of place on this night. Instead it turned out to be the most rousing and celebratory moment of the evening--not to mention hilarious and not a little poignant. That song came two songs into the band's four-song encore, the sort-of bow on top of a fine gift, even if it wasn't the one you'd hoped to receive.

But, at this venue, a large crowd is a major factor in the show's success. It sure would've helped on this night. The performance was one filled with ebbs and flows of energy. All the elements for a rowdy night were in place--the band's highly danceable sound, the mega-sized disco-ball hanging above the crowd, the lazers shooting out from behind the band, the fog machines, the three sets of seven rows of lights that lit up in time with the band's most pulsating peaks of performance--but the room, well, is just a tough one to tame. Up front, the band's display was a dazzling one. Toward the back and off to the sides, it fell somewhat flat.

In that sense, this show was pretty much perfect. Really: It played out much like LCD's albums do; they can be endlessly enjoying if you give them the chance to let their flashes of brilliance and genius take hold. But if you're not willing to dive in yourself, their efforts will seem in vein.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I own all of LCD's records and think This Is Happening is the frontrunner for album of the year.

By The Way: New York's Holy Ghost! opened the show and impressed with its disco-tinged dance-rock. Unfortunately, the band's sound was mixed way too low in the system. I ran into one of the band members after the show, though, and he said he expects the band to have more control over sound and lighting scenarios on its next tour--which, conveniently enough, finds the band returning to the Palladium in August with Chromeo.

Random Note:
Holy Ghost!'s sound might have been low, but, for the first time I think ever at the Palladium, there were no complaints to be had for the sound during the headlining performance.

Set List:
Us Vs. Them
Yr City's A Sucker
Drunk Girls
Pow Pow
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
All My Friends
I Can Change

Someone Great
Losing My Edge
New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down
Empire State of Mind (Short Jay-Z cover)

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman

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