LCD Soundsystem's Dance-Punk Nostalgia Took Over the James L. Knight Center

An LCD Soundsystem show is much like the typical James Murphy attire: business casual with no pretense. It’s fun and relaxed like his white T-shirt but serious and straightforward like his blazer. Essentially, he embodies the old adage of what you see is what you get.

Perhaps that’s why when the band announced a reunion less than five years after playing its supposedly final show, there were plenty of upset fans who felt swindled, as if this were an elaborate cash grab. But in Miami, those hard feelings dissipated like the sweat from last night’s dance marathon.

It was time to get dolled up for another party.

LCD Soundsystem's Dance-Punk Nostalgia Took Over the James L. Knight CenterEXPAND
Photo by Alex Markow

Wednesday night’s show at the James L. Knight Center in downtown was hotly anticipated because of last years' cancellation at III Points due to Hurricane Matthew. The group’s last stop in Miami, in 2010, was a  properly energetic evening of grabbing the person next to you and shouting the lyrics of each song into each other’s faces.

This time around, well, it was much the same. Inside the cavernous yet oddly intimate setting of the nearly 40-year-old Knight Center (that feels much, much older), LCD Soundsystem began the show with “Oh Baby,” off American Dream, a slow-burning track that built, both testing and rewarding the listeners' patience.

“Call the Police,” another new track, was an unadulterated wall of noise that smoked the crowd out with guitar feedback and a relentless wave of crunching fuzz.

Three songs in, appropriately enough during “I Can Change,” it was clear that aside from making a fresh batch of music, Murphy and company had done quite the opposite of change. Even with the layoff that saw him produce an Arcade Fire album and open a wine bar, LCD Soundsystem remains in peak form, uncorrupted by the years away.

LCD Soundsystem's Dance-Punk Nostalgia Took Over the James L. Knight CenterEXPAND
Photo by Alex Markow

The stage setup remained essentially unchanged from forever ago. Lots of instruments, speakers, lights, people, and other gear crowded the stage, so it felt as if attendees were peeking into a studio session rather than a concert. The disco ball used on the cover of the band's eponymous debut LP was once again employed to grandiose effect, creating a sparkling dance floor for a nonstop starlit shuffle.

Regardless of whether the band was indulging in its minimalism or Murphy and every instrument were screaming bloody murder, you couldn't help but constantly move. Each slap of the snare, each plink of the piano, each line delivered by Murphy in his rhythmic talk-singing style drove the narrative forward. Long bouts of pulsating, sustained beats always erupted into momentous crescendos of blinding, dazzling colors and sounds.

Halfway through, Murphy paused to explain how the show, and most shows, work: a group, or “murder,” of songs; a pee break; and then the encore. Again, his knack for being straightforward only added to the band’s charm. He also acknowledged that in building set lists, he considers the mindset of most fans: “Come on. Get to the fucking song, I know.”

It was this lack of artifice, this vibe of friendly, almost innocent honesty, that allowed even the most rhythmically challenged to bounce and hop uncontrollably during the closing numbers, “Dance Yrslf Clean” and “All My Friends.”

LCD Soundsystem's Dance-Punk Nostalgia Took Over the James L. Knight CenterEXPAND
Photo by Alex Markow

Although it is a shame that LCD Soundsystem skipped favorites such as “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” and “Disco Infiltrator,” there was plenty that had the audience flailing. The patriarch of dance punk was back, and his friends and family greeted Murphy jubilantly, taking his words to heart when he said, “If you have the most fun, you win.”

Setlist:
- "Oh Baby"
- "Call the Police"
- "I Can Change"
- "Get Innocuous!"
- "You Wanted a Hit"
- "Tribulations"
- "Movement"
- "Someone Great"
- "Yr City's a Sucker"
- "Change Yr Mind"
- "Tonight"
- "Home"
- "I Want Your Love" (Chic cover)

Encore:
- "Emotional Haircut"
- "Dance Yrself Clean"
- "All My Friends"

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