New York's LCD Soundsystem Bring the Apple to the Fillmore

Photo: The sound of silver.  LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy rocked the Fillmore Thursday night with a salt and pepper 'do, amid rumors that the band is on the brink of retirement.
Anna Vignet/Staff
The sound of silver. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy rocked the Fillmore Thursday night with a salt and pepper 'do, amid rumors that the band is on the brink of retirement.

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With his graying scruff, white tee and black cargo pants, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem serenaded and rallied a packed house Thursday night at San Francisco's Fillmore. LCD's loyal indie following snapped up the $35 tickets in a heartbeat. The sold out show's tickets were immediately going for over $150 each and for good reason. The performance by the electronic-punk-dance ensemble headed by DFA Records producer Murphy proved to be worth every Craigslist-pawned penny.

LCD played for nearly two hours, delivering hits like "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" and "All My Friends" peppered with new tracks off the new album, This Is Happening. Equally versatile in person as he is on his records, Murphy's vocals were impeccable. And the instrumentation was just as clean. From the snarky, nasal "Yr City's a Sucker" to the melancholy, melodic "I Can Change," Murphy cradled the mic by his heart as he killed every track.

Murphy's unaffected comedic nature came effortlessly on Thursday. He casually drew attention to his drummer, stage left, who was wearing hot pants, and the crowd roared in approval for the bare-legged percussionist. Towards the end of the show, Murphy expressed his concern to the crowd about them taking videos ("That's cool, put 'em up on YouTube!") while chiding that if the crowd was too focused on recording, they might not fully enjoy the show. The crowd made "oohs" in unison, backing Murphy's diss. It could have come off self righteous but instead served as a playful reminder to the audience why they were there and why they love LCD. Murphy's little remark also reflected the non-threatening irony and wit of his music. Like in "Losing My Edge," the hilarious, gritty seven-minute plus single that launched the band, the crowd relinquished their cool, singing with Murphy, "I'm losing my edge to better-looking people/With better ideas and more talent/And they're actually really, really nice."

The front row, or mob really, was drenched in sweat and beer. They bounced off one another like slippery ping pong balls to the beat of "Us V Them" with its repetitive lyrics and driving cowbell. And the techno track "Yeah" made for great softcore moshing despite minimal space on the crowded standing-room-only floor. But the trance beats and callback chants of "Pow Pow" produced the most thrusting fists and bobbing heads. Murphy and his six cohorts on stage created an invigorating and seamless amalgamation of live and synthesized instrumentation.

Staying true to his NY home, the show ended with some serious homage. No LCD show is complete without "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," but the odd treat was what followed: a remix of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind." Even this cover didn't feel out of place because Murphy's tastes and techniques only lure fans in further with their diversity, made apparent by the applause for "Empire" before the end of the first chord.

Although treacherous rumors had been floating around that this might be LCD's last tour, with This Is Happening being reportedly their last album, Mr. Murphy, cool and calm, reassured the SF crowd that he will be back. And since he is the ultimate authority on everything, his word should be trusted like the word of God. Between his attitude and his talent, Murphy somehow managed to be the coolest uncool dude because, well, "there's advantages to each."

Back up James Murphy's disses with Kalesa at [email protected]

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