Review: LCD Soundsystem Wires Observatory and Electrifies at Hollywood Bowl




LCD Soundsystem at Observatory - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
LCD Soundsystem at Observatory - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

LCD Soundsystem uses its energy wisely. In one week LCD Soundsystem wired the Observatory in Orange County, and then threw on the power for two nights at The Hollywood Bowl.

The two venues are about as different as it can get, and it’s the adept musician who can charge the crowds at such opposite venues. The Observatory, where we caught LCD Soundsystem last week, has a few hundred capacity with an intimate feel, and the Hollywood Bowl, where we saw them on Saturday night, can seat upwards of 17,000 to satisfy the masses. They’re completely different experiences, the fans are different and the price of refreshments is separated by a decimal place or two.

James Murphy LCD Soundsystem - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
James Murphy – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

LCD Soundsystem at Santa Barbara Bowl

LCD Soundsystem played three nights at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley before the Observatory, played the Santa Barbara Bowl and concluded a West Coast swing with the Friday and Saturday nights at the Hollywood Bowl.

But it doesn’t seem to matter to LCD Soundsystem whether they perform before a small group or the masses at a large amphitheater, the band’s set continually electrifies.

A Lucky Few (Hundred)

At the Observatory OC it was a lucky few hundred who were able to purchase a ticket to the SoCal venue. The LCD gang performed some of their biggest hits and mingled easily with the capacity crowd at Costa Mesa’s mini amphitheater-like music venue.

LCD Soundsystem at Observatory OC - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
LCD Soundsystem at Observatory OC – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Fans Clamored for Tickets at Smaller Venue

“I feel really lucky I got the ticket,” said fan Gino, who came to the show with his brother. “We had to order the tickets one by one and they sold out in two minutes.” But the sacrifice was worthwhile as the two brothers were happy to be standing only five feet from the stage.

LCD Soundsystem catered to the crowd, playing the hits including “You Wanted a Hit,”  “Dance Yrself Clean,” and tunes off the latest album, American Dream, released last year.

Frontman James Murphy doesn’t care for cell phones at the show. He said he hoped the room could all be “one,” giving and taking, without the burden of cell phones up in the air. The couple of hundred people there paid heed and the reward was great as the band broke out into its own version of a disco-mosh, sythesizer-laced party. Let’s just say chameleon-like LCD sounds a lot like a mashup of The Cure with EDM, but it also touches on the experience of what seeing The Talking Heads was like. There is a strong similarity, particularly on the staccato-beat hit “Dance Yrself Clean.”

The LCD party continued in Santa Barbara at the Bowl and then two nights at The Hollywood Bowl, the latter date billed as LCD Soundsystem vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem cuts loose - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem cuts loose – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

‘How Do You Sleep’ Performed Live

At the Hollywood Bowl, it was a similar set list, with few changes, but notably including “How Do You Sleep,” the first time the song was played live.

The Bowls’ opening band, Young Fathers, of Scotland, added some funky rock notes to the evening. It’s a band worth seeing again. And the opportunity presents itself as the band announced Tuesday it will hit the road on a headlining tour in support of their new album Cocoa Sugar.

There were a few differences between the two different LCD Soundsystem shows that we saw. For one thing the Bowl has the four big screens and a lot more walking.  People are sitting, whereas the Observatory is a standing venue, but it has an amphitheater style layout and there isn’t a bad vantage point in the house.

Basically the biggest difference was Murphy dressed in a white suit at the Bowl and wore a T-shirt at the Observatory.  He made it a point to tell the Bowl audience that Saturday was the last show in the U.S. for a while, the band is heading to Europe at the end of May for at least a month of shows.

James Murphy LCD Soundsystem - Photo by Alyson Camus for CaliforniaRocker.com
James Murphy – Photo by Alyson Camus for CaliforniaRocker.com

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Take The Hollywood Bowl

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs never disappoint, the dynamic Karen O spits water into the air, eats her mic, then slams the mic on the ground by the cord and generally is one of the best front people out there.  Her clothing is always great and props to the stylist who always keeps her looking like she’s a cross between a Mad Max character and roller derby queen.

Karen O at the Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Alyson Camus
Karen O at the Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Alyson Camus

‘Map’ Brings Out the Best in Yeah Yeah Yeahs

In introducing the song, “Maps,” O made sure to get some points across.

“I’d like to dedicate this song to someone you love more than life itself,” she said. “I’d like to dedicate this song to someone you loved and you lost, I’d like to dedicate this song to all the girls in the crowd, I have seen the future and it’s female!  I’d like to dedicate this song to all you lovers at the Hollywood Bowl, tonight. Yeah Yeah Yeahs is love. I’d like to dedicate this song to LCD Soundsystem and Young Fathers.”

Despite all the laughing O did, it was clear her band took the Hollywood Bowl appearance seriously.

“I don’t need to tell you what it means to play The Hollywood Bowl,” O said.  “It took 18 years to get here.”

Video courtesy of Alyson Camus of Rock NYC Live and Recorded

 

SETLIST: LCD Soundsystem, Hollywood Bowl on May 5 

Yr City’s a Sucker

You Wanted a Hit

Tribulations

I Can Change

Get Innocuous!

I Used To

Daft Punk Is Playing at My House

Movement

Someone Great

Call the Police

Tonite

Home

I Want Your Love (Chic)

Encore:

Oh Baby

Emotional Haircut

Dance Yrself Clean

All My Friends

SETLIST: LCD Soundsystem, Hollywood Bowl on May 5 

Get Innocuous!

You Wanted a Hit

Tribulations

I Can Change

Call the Police

Movement

Someone Great

Tonite

Home

How Do You Sleep?

Oh Baby

Emotional Haircut

Dance Yrself Clean

All My Friends

SETLIST: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Hollywood Bowl May 5

Y Control

Black Tongue

Down Boy

Pin

Gold Lion

Sacrilege

Zero

Maps

Cheated Hearts

Soft Shock

Heads Will Roll

Date With The Night