LCD Soundsystem - Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Ireland
The ethos of the Electric Picnic Main Stage is that it brings all that is good and great about music, regardless of genre, together. So it is with much sniggering that, prior to their arrival, LCD Soundsystem have an audience front row made up entirely of giddy teenage girls. Now I don't know if LCD Soundsystem's growing exposure has seen them target the Smash Hits market; I've never pictured figurehead James Murphy - a great big labrador of a man - as boy-band material. However, a quick scan at the line-up reveals that they are due to be followed by chart sensation and soulless balladeer James Blunt: the penny drops, but will the post-punk disco clatter penny drop for the front row pop kids?
The band members amble on stage; rather than hiding behind their non-celebrity they shine the spotlight on it. "Today," James informs us, "'Band Member of the Day' is Tyler.......that's Tyler!" ushering all the attention to his nonplussed bass player, who timidly milks the applause. It's with this amiable charm, and their ability to turn being self-conscious into an artform, that endears them to us from the off.
Beat Connection kicks things off - all bristling percussion and taut bass. Sounding like a new wave Studio 54 house band, this is the perfect soundtrack to offset a cynical diatribe against the apathetic NYC social scene: "Nobody’s falling in love, everybody here needs a shove!" The crowd responds accordingly as the band moves headlong through a spiralling cocophony of organ, effects and hand claps to its rousing conclusion. "Ladies and gentlemen.....Tyler!"
After that zippy rant, the mood turns much more self-effacing with the elastic funk posturing of Daft Punk Is Playing At My House. The materialistic snarl is underlined by James as he frantically places more emphasis on the "my" of the title, pushing the hinted brinkmanship to Pat Bateman levels. We can't help but get caught up in its fever, and even the Bluntettes begin to tap a toe or two. "Everyone? Tyler!!"
Movement, Tribulations and On Repeat all zip by with primal urgency, proving that monotony never sounded so good, or so danceable. As each song passes the crowd grows more riotous, people reacting as if they're watching a scuzzy and discordant Faithless. The droning Bontempi shuffle of Losing My Edge kicks in, signalling an even greater response, and cues James to adopt his David Byrne meets Mark E Smith dramatics again-ah!!! The crowd is peppered with the machine-gun rhythm and searing synths whilst the anxious chatter of a record obbsessive's p*ssing contest are spat at us. "A big hand for Tyler!"
Yeah sees Nancy and James vacantly intone the title. The themes of Beat Connection are echoed as another condemnation of apathy begins: "I’m tired, tired, tired, no listening, listening knowing that the sh*t’s got to run!" All the while the verbal blank nod of the title whines away in the background as the p-funk soundtrack picks up the baton. Slowly, almost subconsciously, an acid line creeps like a snake in a box of eels, before detonating through the speakers, headbuttting the indifferent and uninterested and igniting the track into a corrosive maelstrom - think Josh Wink’s Higher State Of Consciousness meets Gang of Four. This is the wake-up call for the MTV generation. "Let's hear it for Tyler!!"
Having scaled the heights of acid house there’s only one way the band can go now, and it ain’t down. With barely a pause for breath the band cut fast into a trancey house instrumental Xerox'ing the intoxicating looped bass of Donna Summer's I Feel Love bass and the mounting intense organ stabs of L’il Louis’ French Kiss. Cymbal crashes and congo percussion shower the burgeoning exhilaration felt by all around - even the front row James Blunt fans scatter their inhibitions and join in with the rejoice. As the track winds down under its own steam, we wind down too; drained but euphoric. The band exits the stage to huge applause and we're left, for once, to feel sorry James Blunt: how on earth will he top that? He probably won't, but if he needed any advice - just ask Tyler!
Photo by Madra2112 from the Electric Picnic Forums