Review and photos – LCD Soundsystem at Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, May 31 2010
– review by Robyn Hanson/photos by Jason Statler
Expecting rain – and why not, since it’s Vancouver in May – LCD Soundsystem and its equipment hugged the back of the stage, away from potential water damage. The lineup included several drummers and percussionists, people on guitars, on keyboards, and on drum machines. A big-ass mirror ball hung from above. And there was the man behind it all: James Murphy. Wearing a white hoodie, he rotated between mic and drum machine duty.
Following the opening number, Murphy greeted the audience (not quite sold-out, perhaps owing to on-again off-again rain, or the $50+ ticket price) and promptly apologized for having the band play further back on the stage, explaining that normally they’d set the equipment out at the very edge, however it was raining the entire time they were setting up, so they had to set it up further back than they’d like to, and their equipment doesn’t have wheels, so, they were very sorry. It was all very sincere and the audience adored him.
I really didn’t know what to expect from Murphy as a frontman, but he has this really endearing, boyish charm. It was hard not to love him. He seemed legitimately earnest and just happy to be there, forever saying hello (and calling himself out on perpetually saying hello), and just generally keeping the experience engaging for everyone. And while he’s undeniably the LCD team leader, he behaves more like an equal while on stage.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere at the back of the bowl, situated in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, was mellow, and I soon realized that to properly experience an LCD Soundsystem show, I needed to weasel my way closer to the stage. While not wild and crazy, the front stage crowd was clearly more energetic – especially the staff of Yaletown restaurant Section 3 and their friends, who had assembled an impressive dance party stage left. Particularly memorable were the (young) Tom Waits and Kristen Kreuk doppelgangers, who were entwined all night in a wild ballet, beating and grinding to the amusement of the nearby bouncer.
It was there, next to these two, where I started to dance in the mud with a perfect unobstructed view of the band. And this felt exactly right.
In terms of the set-list, the Brooklyn party band played a solid selection of what many fans would want to hear. Tracks off of the latest album, This is Happening, included “Pow Pow”, “All I Want”, and “Drunk Girls”, although, disappointingly, not “Home”. The set also included a few numbers from the self-titled debut, including the classic “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” and the obligatory crowd-pleaser “Tribulations”, as well as favourites off 2007’s Sound of Silver such as “All My Friends”.
It was at the beginning of that familiar one-piano-note tune, which came about halfway through the set, that something just clicked, and the dance party really started. “All My Friends” segued into “I Can Change”, a new track on which Murphy channels his inner Morrissey, which led to “Tribulations”, and that was when I thought, “I am so glad I came tonight!”
The only encore was the evening’s highlight. “Someone Great“, with its lyrics drenched in personal loss, is a rather sobering but brilliant take on dance punk, and one of my all-time favourite tracks. A rather passionate “Losing My Edge” followed, and then, to wind things down, “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”, complete with an a capella ending of “Empire State of Mind”. The only thing missing was the rain.
More LCD Soundsystem at Malkin Bowl photos: