I went to a rock concert and a dance party broke out. Or was it the other way around: a rave transformed into a snarling rock gig? Either way, Saturday's LCD Soundsystem show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium perfectly toed the line between those two worlds. Despite all the dancefloor-driven indie-rock acts out there nowadays, those worlds rarely meet up with the kind of supernova force that LCD generated by mashing them up Saturday.
The 90-minute performance was the last of a string of hip shows at The Roy for the fall, all of which -- save for the sold-out Arcade Fire gig -- drew the same half-size crowd, about 2,200 fans. And just as LCD did when it opened for Arcade Fire at the St. Paul mini-arena in 2007, the New York band overcame the acoustic challenges and impressively converted the venue's cavernous vibe into a vibrant nightclub atmosphere. Giant disco balls will do that. Even the balcony was lit up with dancers throughout the show.
As someone who believes a polka band can be funkier than the average techno/house music out there (I'm not trying to be cute, either), I found the more "dancey" songs such as "Get Innocuous," "Yeah" and especially "Tribulations" to be absolutely infectious and electrifying. The rocky stuff came off even better, from the moment "Drunk Girls" lit up the crowd near the start of the show to when the punky and maniacally sped-up "Movement" left fans in awe near the finale. The true high point of the set might have been "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House," which started out sounding like Devo more than Daft Punk but built and built into a hair-raising climax that either act would envy. That strangely repetitious and surprisingly basic formula -- they don't really change the music much, just speed it up and play it heavier -- was the crux of the show. "All My Friends" and "Yeah" peaked in a similar fashion.
Throughout the concert, frontman James Murphy stepped out of the limelight to give his band members their deserved attention. He didn't say much between songs, either, besides trying to come up with new, heartfelt ways of thanking the crowd. "Maybe I should write a letter," he quipped near the end. Such a classy, old-fashion kind of guy. Here's the whole setlist:
Dance Yrself Clean / Drunk Girls / Get Innocuous! / Yr City's A Sucker / Daft Punk Is Playing at My House /
I Can Change / All My Friends / You Wanted A Hit / Tribulations / Movement / Yeah ENCORE (sorta; the band didn't really leave the stage): Someone Great / Losing My Edge / Home
Word soon got around via Twitter and lesser-used mouth accounts after the show that an SUV load of players from Wilkins were headed over to First Avenue to be guest DJs for the weekly Too Much Love dance night. Sure enough, the entourage showed up about 12:30 a.m. with members of Hot Chip and LCD in tow, including Al Doyle (who plays in both bands), Felix Martin and LCD's Pickles-lookalike member Gavin Rossum. James Murphy rolled up his sleeves around 1 and got down to business, spinning a set of mostly laid-back, New Wavey and/or soulful grooves. Among them was Heaven 17's "Play to Win," which was playing when the giant movie screen lifted of the stage and dancers took over -- to Murphy's bemused surprise.
Celebrity guest DJ appearances can be awkward and distracting events, as people often just stand around and stare at the star. That was partially true in this case, but I appreciated how much fun Murphy seemed to be having. It made me think he'll return to the club whenever he comes around again -- bringing along whatever project he dreams up next, post-LCD.