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How LCD Soundsystem stole the show on Coachella Day 1

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LCD Soundsystem on Friday night was easily one of the best sets that Coachella’s main stage has ever purveyed.

With a troupe of skilled instrumentalists — electronic and otherwise — they triumphantly returned as a seasoned new age orchestra, with James Murphy standing at the helm as the conductor and first chair performer. Lo-fi, but highly energetic, the synchronicity of lighting and music was spectacular. At points, their visual presentation was dazzling, with titanic disco balls and stupefying visuals, but equally-awe inspiring (if not more so) were the periods in which the visual sensations ceased. For the lion’s share of LCD’s performance, the audience saw the band simply shrouded in a haze of smoke. Watching Murphy and his cabal work their pioneering, modular magic is easily as engaging as the most ostentatious live show.

Newcomers to the band came to find that James Murphy is quite the orator, frequently halting the set to interject with randomly droll statements or long-winded speeches. An ambiguous timer sat onstage, which Murphy explained midway through was set in place to limit the length and frequency of his onstage filibusters. Because of his restraint, he “earned” an extra song, a point at which the crowd reveled.

Amidst LCD’s own catalogue, the crowd witnessed an incredibly eclectic range of music, sporadic elocutions and nods to band members Nancy Whang and Pat Mahoney. But perhaps the most evocative moment came when LCD Soundsystem delivered an impassioned homage to the late David Bowie with a stunning cover of “Heroes” as their penultimate song.

However, the most defining attribution of a set filled with legendary moments had to be how James Murphy delivered upon his critical monologue during “Losing My Edge.” Among a litany of other cultural tropes, Murphy stated that music and society itself are “Losing our edge to the internet.” In an industry where internet distribution is rising, and homogenous performance seems to be rising in direct correlation, to say that electronic performance has lost its edge is not an incontrovertible fact, but a sage admonition to the future of our culture.

Amidst a blistering, but restrained backdrop of visual pieces that vacillated in intensity but remained consistent in musical compatibility, Murphy and his cadre ran the gamut for a diverse performance. Delving into rock, punk, disco, synthpop, modernized dance music, and a variety beyond, the band excelled within all musical verticals to create a panacea for disenchanted concertgoers of all creeds.

If live music is losing its edge, LCD Soundsystem brought it back last night.

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