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Pitchfork Music Festival: Dancing with LCD Soundsystem

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James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. (Erin Drewitz / For the Sun-Times)


BY MARK GUARINO

So you think you can dance? Asking that question would not be out of line Saturday, the second day of the Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park. While programming of previous years represented the continued fragmentation of the recording industry, this year showed where everyone's head is at: their feet.

While the slate of artists and bands Saturday all were heavy on the beat, none accomplished unity on a grander scale than LCD Soundsystem, the day's headliner. The reason may be due to the nature of the set itself. The albums come from one man in a studio, but live the music requires seven people. That democratization creates opportunities and resulted in showing this band sounds better outside the club and under open skies.

Leader and singer James Murphy crooned, talked and mumbled his way though songs that were definitively rooted in the mid-1970's though early-1980's, a period when the experimental punk of Gang of Four eventually blended into the British New Wave romanticism of New Order and David Bowie and the jittery Afro-pop collaborations of Talking Heads.

Yet unlike the most bandleaders of that period who masked their personalities, Murphy's tense and aloof idiosyncrasies played front and center, which helped the title plea of "I Can Change" crest in the song's chorus, or made pop nonsense like "Pow Pow" more appealing. Songs like "Losing My Edge," Murphy's first single released eight years ago, remained comical for his spoken-word recitation of iconic hipster necessities.

The music was densely packed full of sparkly electro-rock trinkets, but it never felt burdened by too many ideas. Instead, the dedication to repetition made the music pulse with lightness until the moments when jackhammer synthesizers and pounding beats exploded. The carefully arranged dynamics between chilled-out romanticism and punk chaos were precisely arranged, which gave the entire set direction, which made you wonder what was happening next.

Besides the music, there was also one enduring visual effect: a disco ball that slowly rotated above the band, projecting tiny white lights rotating through the surrounding trees.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on July 17, 2010 11:30 PM.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Panda Bear, Bears, Wolf Parade, oh my was the previous entry in this blog.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers won't back down is the next entry in this blog.

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