LCD Soundsystem & Arcade Fire
The weather folks had been promising rain all week starting on Thursday night of September 20th, prompting concerns that LCD Soundsystem and The Arcade Fire would be performing under tarps and the audience would be slinging mud at each other, afterwards tearing the Hollywood Bowl apart in true anarchic fashion. Alas, the skies were clear and though it was a bit chilly, it was indeed a beautiful night for the show. I felt like an idiot for having my umbrella open the whole time, but no one around seemed to mind.
The pairing of the two bands sounds like a match made in indie heaven and turned out to be every bit as enjoyable as it looks on paper. LCD Soundsystem is out promoting the recent CD and double-vinyl release of 45:33, their latest album, a continuous mix that was previously available only on iTunes. (Subliminal plug: Check it out! Buy it! There’s b-sides and more!) Playing a couple samples from that album, the ubiquitous hit “All My Friends,” “Get Innocuous,” and ending with a gleefully sardonic “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down,” James Murphy and his grinning band had half of the crowd on their feet the entire show. The other half was busy drinking wine straight from the bottle and raving about the half-full moon. At least the half near our section was. Complaining about the cold while only wearing a thin white button down shirt, Murphy truly was an engaging showman, flapping wildly and bouncing around the stage. Their phenomenal songs are by necessity very electronic on the album but came across as immediate and organic as the tight beats, keyboard squiggles, pinging guitar and Murphy’s baritone vocals floated up and out to the sky.
Last time Arcade Fire played the bowl, they opened for David Byrne. They seemed pretty overwhelmed by the idea of the Hollywood Bowl and in fact mentioned that while they played. Well, the years in between have seen them mature in leaps and bounds, as they simply owned the stage. Most of the crowd were on their feet the entire time, and someone was showering the middle section of the Bowl with glowsticks, which was pretty neat looking, actually. I’m sure the folks getting hit in the back of the head didn’t think it was neat, but watching it sure was. Overcoming an initially atrocious sound mix, the large, sprawling band played a ferocious and tight set aimed at opening the mind and setting the spirit free, railing against the U.S. Government and imploring everyone to dance. It seemed that every one of the band members were simultaneously playing a stringed instrument and banging on some type of percussion. They rolled through several hits from their first album Funeral, as well as a few from their latest Neon Bible, the mix of songs complementing each other with a pace that never lagged, even on their slower numbers. Ending the initial set with the rousing hit “Rebellion (Lies)” Win Butler and his troupe strolled offstage, grinning and waving, only to be called back out for two more songs, finally sending the crowd home with the even more rousing dirge-cum-Motown “Wake Up.” It was truly a night to be roused, from sleep, from apathy, from being blind to the truth. What a lovely show.