YouTube Live: LCD Soundsystem Live Tutorial 101

on October 26, 2010, 1:15pm

For the past year of my life, James Murphy and his amazingly talented band, LCD Soundsystem, have blessed my speakers and stereo. Quite frankly, the timing could not have been any better. Upon stumbling across a dance party to “Someone Great” at the Phish Festival 8 campground, I became hooked on Sound of Silver, grabbed This is Happening upon its release, and then submerged myself in their epic, double-disc debut. And to top it all off, I caught them three times in one year (Coachella, Sasquatch, and Treasure Island), and each performance was just as intense as the one before. Over the past few months, I have come to learn one thing about this band: LCD Soundsystem owns the live scene.

While their records are indeed fantastic, the only way to truly experience them is on tour. For one, James Murphy knows how to be a frontman. For a guy who looks like a college English professor and manages to dance like David Byrne, he sure knows how to rock out, scream, and get the entire crowd on their feet. And the band fleshes itself out with skilled percussionists, synth players, and guitarists equally adept at playing electronica, punk, straight-up rock and roll, and (dare I say) disco. (“It’s the disco infiltrator fo’ sho’.”) This is why at Treasure Island a couple weeks ago I couldn’t believe how many people were telling me, “I’ve never heard LCD Soundsystem.”

Let’s get one thing straight though about day one at Treasure Island. Everybody wanted Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5, another dude who has rivaled James Murphy via my personal airwaves on a daily basis. Every raver in the crowd dipping molly told me they had just “heard of” LCD Soundsystem or had “heard a couple songs online.” None of them seemed nearly as stoked as I was that they were going to come out on-stage and give the Bay Area a musical enema. At this point, they’re a band I rave about to all my friends constantly, but, of course, trying to convince a majority of people to see some indie-electronic band they have never heard before is slightly difficult.

With that in mind, I have compiled a group of clips that could easily convince anybody to cough up 50 bucks to see James Murphy and company. Honestly, it’s worth your money and time. If you leave disappointed, post a message to this article, and I’ll know I have personally steered you wrong. But I don’t see that happening.

The first clip finds the band shortly after they had released their self-titled debut in 2005, which contained a number of songs that Murphy had been working on for some three years. And where would any band that is smart play after such a monumental career move? Letterman, obviously. Here, the band comes on and plays the classic “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” to a television audience who probably was unsure of what they saw – or even who Daft Punk was. At this point, LCD was still relatively small, playing festival tents and small clubs. Nevertheless, in this performance, they prove they’re going to become one of the coolest bands of the new generation.

The next video is a quality clip of “North American Scum”, a number off 2007’s Sound for Silver with an extremely catchy organ riff, a gnarly punk-rock chorus, and insightful lyrics about how audiences seem to perceive LCD Soundsystem. This shows how the band builds upon their songs as they play, making each measure of music more exciting than the one before. It’s exactly what DJs do in the club, but LCD Soundsystem does it with a full-on punk/indie band. Their innovative clash of stylistics and genres really shines through on this clip.

Now we come to modern times. LCD Soundsystem, at this point, is a commodity. Their shows at large arenas now sell out every seat. They have headlined (and sub-headlined) festivals all summer long and at each show blew away the audiences that came to see people like the Gorillaz, Pavement, Phish, Dave Mathews, or whatever other band you dropped 300 bucks on a three-day pass to see. Their shows are now so intense, epic, and jaw-dropping, it’s like a religious awakening, and James Murphy in his white tuxedo is the preacher. The first clip I have here is from a show not even two weeks ago in Los Angeles. While the clip lags a bit, the audio is superb, and the magnitude of the performance is undeniable. It includes “You Wanted a Hit” off This Is Happening and “Tribulations”, a sort of hardcore dance number that makes me really want to…dance.

Next is a clip from their supreme and shocking performance at this year’s Coachella, where they absolutely owned the main stage on Friday night prior to Hova coming out. In this clip, they play “Yeah”, which quite frankly scared the shit out of me when I witnessed it in the flesh, but one cannot hide the fact that it was by far one of the most amazing songs/shows of the entire weekend. Just watch how Murphy sings it.

If you’re still not convinced, and YouTube videos just “don’t cut it” for you, then go ahead and buy a few tickets for yourself. That’s not just an endorsement, but a guarantee that you’ll leave floored. Just think of it this way, if you feel even slightly moved while listening to a few tracks from the group, you’ll no doubt amplify those feelings while standing and dancing around the venue. Don’t believe me? Check out this clip of the audience at Sasquatch losing their mind (or perhaps their edge?) to “All My Friends”. Yeah.