Photo: Will Rice
LCD Soundsystem + Hot Chip
Aragon Ballroom | Chicago
by Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog (photos after the jump)
It shouldn’t have taken me seeing LCD Soundsystem three times since May to tell you that James Murphy and company are some of the best live performers in the game right now. But, all the same, it was on a sweat-soaked sold out Aragon Ballroom dance floor last night listening to Murphy sing “look around you, you’re surrounded, it won’t get any better,” from the band’s set closer “Home” that I fully appreciated what this troupe of disco-loving rockers can do on stage.
It was a blast to see Hot Chip, too. This year’s Lollapalooza was the first time I caught the band live, so getting to hear the quintet in a proper venue setting was a treat. Unfortunately the unruly acoustics of the Aragon got the better of them at points. With each song underpinned by a steady dance thump, the bass reverberating around the room had a tendency to swallow a lot of Hot Chip’s lovely synth nuances, vocal harmonies and other such subtleties. If the band noticed, they certainly didn’t show it. Keyboardist and guitarist Owen Clarke was like an Energizer Bunny, skanking to songs and hoisting his guitar in the air for solos. I couldn’t help but think of Paul Simon as I watched frontman Alexis Taylor skip around in his white suit and sequin-adorned ball cap. He’s not afraid to let his nerdiness shine through. And perks of the double billing—versus a lesser known opening band—Hot Chip played for an hour, mixing past staples like “Over and Over” and “Ready for the Floor” in with the stand outs from their new record like “One Life Stand” and “I Feel Better.”
By the time Hot Chip finished the Aragon was already a bit of a sauna, but that didn’t stop anyone from pushing up as close to front and center as possible to dance themselves clean to LCD. That’s exactly what happened too, as the opening track from This is Happening, so conspicuously missing from past shows on this tour, was our lead-off moment. When a crescendo hit two minutes into the song, the whole room erupted. Murphy didn’t banter as much as he has at past shows—just a few jokes and non sequiturs for chuckles. Possibly due to the heat, the band was all business. Thankfully that business brings a hell of a lot of intensity (and high volumes) as the band barreled through crowd faves like “All My Friends” and “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” before setting a more grooving pace on older cuts like “Tribulations” and “Movement.” The signature acid freakout of “Yeah” signaled the encore and by the time it reached the end of “Home,” the band offered up goodbyes and snuck away off stage. I got a sense that, more than anything, that the band longed for a longer goodbye. After months of touring I’d want a break, too.