Review by Austin Lotz
Photos by Max Stewart
LCD Soundsystem finally came to Atlanta for a solo show last weekend, and it’d be hard to overstate how excited I was. As an unabashed fan boy, I’d been anxiously awaiting the show for months beforehand, guarding the weekend in my calendar and going so far as to tell two different people to get tickets for me (I was mid-flight when pre-sale went online). More than anything else, though, I was replaying the hysteria of ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’ in my head and preparing for a similarly church-like experience.
This drive to conjure up very lucid expectations is a recurring problem for me, and it often leaves me walking out of shows deflated. I mean, how can I really enjoy a My Morning Jacket concert when I’m constantly expecting to be transported to the “One Big Holiday” intro from Bonnaroo 2004? What’s the point of a Widespread Panic show when, in the back of my mind, I’m comparing it to Panic in the Streets? I get that this type of logic strikes at the very core of the live music experience, but it’s one of the inane, incidental results of growing up in the YouTube era. It’s the reason why the best shows are often the ones you stumble into, totally unaware.
If modest expectations can be an unwieldy beast, I had created a particularly gnarly monster with this show. By the time the main set wrapped up with “Home,” the crowd still hadn’t boiled over. The show had been a solid line-up of early record deep cuts (“Tribulations,” “Get Innocuous!”), singles from the new album (“Call the Police,” “Tonite”), and all-timers (“I Can Change,” “Someone Great”), but the raw energy of the crowd was a strange alchemy of anticipation and weariness. Making my way in and out of the main pit was like navigating through a moderately crowded subway car, and though rapt in attention, it seemed like the crowd was on pins and needles, waiting for the bottom to drop out.
Drop out it did. After a theatrical rendition of “Losing My Edge” and a wailing “Emotional Haircut,” a familiar pitter-patter of an opening beat that’s baked into my very DNA floated over the crowd. Bodies surged towards the stage like moths to a flame, and then proceeded to pulse through the double-header finale of “Dance Yrself Clean” into “All My Friends.” This was the party we’d signed up for, and this was the experience I’d waited five years for.
Waking up the next morning, after coming to terms with the ringing in my ears and in my head, it was hard to even remember my pre and early show distress; those small moments when I was grappling with the notion that maybe live music is never as good as the shows you can dream up in your head. I was too caught up in the highs. I was trying desperately to pin point and catalog the feeling of endorphins rushing and synapsis firing as the piano cued up “All My Friends”; the rabid energy of a crowd being wound up and set loose; and the relief that a show could still grab me by the soul and shake me ragged. What I’m saying is that it’s probably good advice not to meet your music heroes, unless that hero’s James Murphy.