Thursday, August 5, 2010

Concert Roundup: Roky Erickson, LCD Soundsystem

Hello!  This place has been a ghost town for too long, and I actually have concerts and other things to share with you from the past couple weeks, but I'm so OCD about chronology that I have to say a few things about a couple shows that deserved longer thoughts from a less distracted person.  But, they got me, as do you, and that's just how it is.  So kicking off my return are some truncated reactions to things that happened quite a while ago...

Roky Erickson and Okkervil River at the Music Box, 5/18/10

Roky is a bit of a legend, what with his spotty recording history and mental issues, and I had already flubbed a chance to see him a few years back at Coachella, so this was exciting.  I had reservations about his collaboration with Okkervil River, about their Americana sound meshing with his, but those turned out to be wildly unfounded.  From the opening salvo of "Night of the Vampire" it was clear that they loved his music and were more than capable of bringing the rock. 

The set did a nice job of going back and forth from his older material to their album together, True Love Cast Out All Evil.  Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff stood to Roky's right, a goofy grin plastered on his face almost the entire night, and (awesome) guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo handled most of the lead parts.  For his part, Roky didn't address the audience and actually stood with his profile to us most of the time, looking to Sheff and Gurgiolo to lead the way, though he did get to do some of the solos, and only miffed the lyrics once that I noticed.  Given his rough history--being institutionalized, receiving shock treatment--we could forgive his awkwardness onstage and just be happy to be treated to such a rousing show.

Set list: Night of the Vampire / Two Headed Dog / Bring Back the Past / Don't Slander Me / Forever / Stand for the Fire Demon / Ooh! My Soul / John Lawman / Be and Bring Me Home / True Love Cast Out All Evil / I Walked With a Zombie / Goodbye Sweet Dreams / Starry Eyes / Reverberation

Encore: You're Gonna Miss Me

LCD Soundsystem at the Fox Theater, 6/5/10

If you follow along here, you know that I just saw James Murphy and company at Coachella in April, but this was different.  First, it was a headlining show, so they could play a full set the way they wanted.  Secondly, the Fox Theater is both awesome and enclosed, which made for a more intimate and much louder experience.  All that said, the set was very similar, just more filled out; they still started with "Us V Them" and "Drunk Girls," but both songs sounded better in the smaller confines, and Murphy was noticeably more sober (less drunk?).  He made a point of welcoming everyone from "the greater Pomona area," but his banter was much more focused, and his voice sounded great, as usual.  Singing into his trademark microphone, Murphy bled out on the stage one second and bounced around it the next.

The set ranged all over their catalogue, and while I could have done without "Yr City's a Sucker," "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" and especially the synthy groove of "Tribulations" and the dance-punk rave "Movement" became something else altogether when given the live treatment.  In their original form, all those songs lack the punch of some of his later recordings, but the live drums and guitar gave them new vitality.  The floor of the Fox did not lack for sweat, and "Yeah" only added to it. 

For the encore, they brought it back down a bit with my second favorite song, "Someone Great," then ended with "New York I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down," which included a brief verse of "Empire State of Mind."  But despite the overall excellence of the whole thing, in particular the end of the main set, once again the part that stood out the most to me was "All My Friends," which caused me to dance and sing unreservedly, and so hard that I felt near to passing out by the last lines.  LCD Soundsystem is a very good band, and Murphy a fantastic frontman, but that song is almost eight minutes of greatness, and hearing it in its best, purest form is the kind of thing I live for.

Set List: Us V Them / Drunk Girls / Yr City's a Sucker / Pow Pow / Daft Punk is Playing at My House / All My Friends / I Can Change / Tribulations / Movement / Yeah

Encore: Someone Great / Losing My Edge / New York I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down

LCD Soundsystem photo by David Hall, OC Register.  Crappy Roky Erickson photo by me.  Desert photo by the Internet, c/o Google Images.

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