LCD Soundsystem returns to Brooklyn Steel for You Are Here residency


Photo by Jaeden Pinder

Jaeden Pinder, Executive Editor

LCD Soundsystem, the Brooklyn-based dance-punk band, returned for another month-long residency at Brooklyn Steel, where they previously hosted the You Are Here shows last year in which the last three performances were abruptly canceled due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. At their 14th performance of the 20-show residency, James Murphy and company performed a blend of hits and deep cuts that fused their discography together into an outstanding showcase of their musical dexterity.

With no opening act, it took the band about 90 minutes to appear onstage for their two-hour set, a crew member meticulously wiping down the microphones before their start. “Willkommen” from “Cabaret” echoed throughout the venue as the musicians crept on stage and assumed their posts. Frontman James Murphy, who appeared in his standard garb, a white t-shirt reading a provoking statement (In this case, “The needle and damage done,” perhaps a reference to the Neil Young song) and roughed-up sneakers gave a quick hello, and immediately sprang into the action of the evening, with “new body rhumba.” The opening track, their first new material since 2017, is also set to appear in Noah Baumbach’s film adaptation of “White Noise.” 

Live, their music is even more ear-shattering; “Tonite’s” bass is nauseatingly loud, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’s” tempo is brought up just enough to induce a vigorous caloric burn and you want to shriek Nancy Whang’s sardonic chants during “new body rhumba.” These more intense moments of the night were paired up with subdued and groovier tracks in their discography, like “I Can Change” and “Someone Great,” the latter in which the band sampled the New Order song “Your Silent Face.”

The band rarely made eye contact with the audience, instead intensely concentrating on their instruments in an almost meditative state. A band of magenta eye shadow across Whang’s cheeks is only visible during the few moments she gazed into the crowd. Percussionist Pat Mahoney didn’t even seem to notice the crowd was there the entire show, frantic but focused. While for some this may seem awkward and aloof, it is the music that connected the two and made for a communal experience simply through sonic admiration as released in head banging, hand-drumming and off-key singing. Al Doyle even allowed the audience to participate during the abrasive “Movement,” where he held his guitar neck out to the crowd as the feedback rang and jolted from grazing fingertips. 

“Losing My Edge” was one of many highlights of the show, as their debut single and most definitive of Murphy’s ethos as he rattled off names of bands and musicians both obscure and familiar; only the shout of the proto-rap figure “Gil Scott Heron!” was cried in unison with the frontman, as the crowd could barely keep up with his intentional off-beats.

The 2022 residency was not altered heavily from the 2021 iteration, though the stage design was improved upon in minor yet effective ways. Most of the show consisted of minimalist and natural lighting, though during fan-favorite “Dance Yrself Clean,” the venue exploded into neon color and strobes in the only proper visualization of the track’s second half. The LED matrix panel–which previously extended across the top of the stage–had now been upgraded to a grander scale and now backlit the band with more detailed displays. During “New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down” a city skyline of yellow bulbs glowed during Murphy’s wailings for the city that he loves to hate and synchronized to Mahoney and the Bongo Boys’ (Murphy’s affectionate name for Nick Millhiser and Korey Richie) drumming. 

During the encore, the band performed a cover of the Human League’s “Seconds” in a wash of red lighting and ended the night with “All My Friends.” A song detailing the neurosis of aging adorn with profoundly blunt lyricism left the venue vibrating with nervous energy for the beat drop that never arrived, though that didn’t stop every person from joining in for the chorus. 

The question now, as the residency is set to end on Dec. 17, is whether the band will continue this winter tradition into the coming years, or if the 2022 You Are Here shows were to compensate for the lost shows of 2021. Of course, COVID is still a point of anxiety; Murphy even mentioned the sound decision to host a series of concerts during flu season with a sarcastic optimism in between songs. Concerns aside, LCD Soundsystem is sure to always have a home at Brooklyn Steel, and fans are unlikely to miss any opportunity to see the band in the future.