Concert Review: LCD Soundsystem Cool, Collected & Loud at Knight Center

Some call them dance-punk heroes or indie-rock saviors, and others call them traitors. Two years into a highly publicized and debated reunion that has led to a rejuvenated career, LCD Soundsystem doesn’t care what you think of them. They just want to make people dance.

Riding high off the success and critical acclaim of this year’s American Dream, the NYC-based group’s reunion record and and first to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts, LCD Soundsystem took the stage at Miami’s James L. Knight Center on Wednesday night with absolutely nothing left to prove.

Yes, you read that right—the James L. Knight Center. This is a band that’s headlined the biggest stages at the biggest music festivals in the world, from Bonnaroo and Coachella to Primavera, and yet for its first stop in South Florida since 2010, fans in Miami were treated to an intimate show in a 4,500-capacity theater.

From the first notes of show opener “Oh Baby,” it was clear that James Murphy and the rest of LCD Soundsystem haven’t missed a beat since unexpectedly returning at the end of 2015. There wasn’t a wrong note to be heard throughout the band’s 16-song, almost two-hour-long set, which found time for tracks from each of its four albums.

Though early hits like “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and “Losing My Edge” were missed, the band’s new material sounded even better than expected live. “Call The Police,” the first single released from American Dream, sounded more anthemic live than it does on record, and “Tonite” received one of the biggest reactions of the night from the crowd.

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The band’s massive stage setup looked like a roadie’s nightmare, with enough gear available to fill a music store and then some. Different combinations of band members came and went throughout the night, with anywhere from six to nine musicians visible onstage at any given time.

Drummer Pat Mahoney, a human metronome and the hardest-working musician on stage, barely ever stopped playing, refusing to allow a moment of quiet in between his fast dance beats.

Guitarist Al Doyle, also known for his work with Hot Chip, was the most theatrical member of the band, moving around the stage all night and waving his guitar wildly at the end of songs for more vibrato.

Of course, the star of the show was the group’s leader and primary songwriter, James Murphy. Murphy was a commanding presence onstage without ever vying for attention, drawing in fans with his intimate lyrics and displays of vocal mastery, all while remaining calm and collected. Halfway through the show, he demonstrated his ability to manipulate the emotions of the crowd, pivoting from the heart-wrenching tenderness of “Someone Great” to the caustic wit of “Yr City’s a Sucker” with only a short interlude of soft-spoken stage banter.

Forgoing any unnecessary theatrics, the band opted for a single disco ball above the stage instead of a dramatic light show or large video screens. That disco ball has been LCD Soundsystem’s hallmark since its inception, and 15 years into its career, that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

Though at first it seemed the set list would be relatively standard, the band wasn’t afraid to throw the crowd a curveball, ending the main set with a version of “Home” that seamlessly transitioned into an unexpected cover of Chic’s “I Want Your Love” with keyboardist Nancy Whang on vocals.

The sound was mixed perfectly all night—no surprise for a group led by Murphy, a noted producer and audiophile. The show seemed to increase in volume as the night went on, an indefinite crescendo that continued into the encore, which was undeniably the highlight of the evening. By the time the beat dropped in penultimate track “Dance Yrself Clean,” the sound had reached ear-shattering levels, and the last stubborn holdouts in the crowd finally succumbed to the music and danced along.

LCD Soundsystem isn’t built to be a massive band: no flashy stage antics, no rock-star showboating. LCD’s secret weapon is its ability to resonate emotionally with so many fans, sharing music that people connect with on a deeper, more personal level. By the time the opening piano chords of show closer “All My Friends” began, the show felt more like a house party hosted by James Murphy than a concert in a theater.

“We know it’s a work night. It’s a school night,” Murphy told the crowd. “We’re right there with you, it’s a school night for us too. Thanks for showing up and getting down with us.”

SET LIST

1) Oh Baby

2) Call The Police

3) I Can Change

4) Get Innocuous!

5) You Wanted a Hit

6) Tribulations

7) Movement

8) Someone Great

9) Yr City’s a Sucker

10) Change Yr Mind

11) Tonite

12) Home

13) I Want Your Love (Chic cover)

ENCORE

14) Emotional Haircut

15) Dance Yrself Clean

16) All My Friends