James Murphy and Co. bid a fabulous farewell five years ago, almost exactly. Packing New York’s famed Madison Square Garden for one last show, they played the hits (“Someone Great,” “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” “Get Innocuous,” and many, many more over the course of three hours), and filmed a documentary, Shut Up And Play The Hits. After, LCD Soundsystem was gone.
Then, at the end of last year, rumors began swirling that AEG, the promoter behind enormous annual festivals like Coachella and Firefly, was going after LCD to headline a number of their summer season events. And as it turned out, where there was smoke, there was fire: Murphy soon after confirmed not just that the group would, in fact, be taking over the main stage in Indio, California, in April but that they were working on an album to follow up 2010’s This Is Happening and planning to launch a massive 2016 tour. (They are also headlining at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Outside Lands.)
At the end of last month, they made their first concert appearance since calling it quits, playing two shows at Webster Hall in New York City. And earlier this week they played the Fox Theater in Pomona, California, for one last tune-up. So when they appeared on the Coachella stage Friday night just after 11 p.m., they were warm. Rather, they were hot. Using the same setlist as their previous shows from this run — minus one interlude-length cover of Saturday night headliner Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” and David Bowie’s “Heroes” as the second-to-last song — they were excellent. Faultless.
Unfortunately, the electricity that governed the New York shows wasn’t coursing through the audience in Indio. It took nearly four songs into the set before it felt like the crowd was really moving. That Murphy performed largely set back, away from the front of stage probably didn’t help. (That he remains a quiet host between songs definitely didn’t help. His excuse came before “Dance Yrself Clean” when he explained he was trying not to speak so that they could squeeze in a few extra tunes.) Either way, it was disappointing that a crowd that so clearly loves dance music seemed so unsure how to, well, dance here. Of course, it might also just be that everyone’s legs were shot from dancing to Jack Ü the set before.
They’ll get a crack at a new crowd in exactly one week when they headline the first night of Coachella’s second weekend.
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Elsewhere on Friday…
In the first high-profile guest-appearance of the fest A$AP Rocky brought out Kanye West at the end of his 7:30 p.m. set — unfortunately, no one got to hear him rap. Plagued by sound issues, his mic cut in and out for the first couple verses of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” before eventually dropping completely, it was a real bummer. (West seemed unaware of the problems, performing passionately the entire time on stage.)
West’s second-chance arrived quickly. Diplo welcomed the hip-hop superstar to join him on stage at the end of his completely bananas Jack Ü set, but rather than put his (probably) functioning mic to work this time, West simply came on stage, and then left the stage after basking in the audience’s applause for a long moment.
YG joined DJ Mustard on stage in the Sahara Tent during his super sweaty, totally awesome dance party for a few songs, but his most memorable contribution came when he went off-script: he started a “F— Donald Trump!” chant that quickly and enthusiastically spread throughout the audience.
While a wide variety of opinions offered about their newest record, what wasn’t up for debate Friday is that French electronic act M83 can throw down at a big festival. Playing on the main stage just after sunset, their show, which was heavy on new material, was entrancing (in part due to an astonishing light show and display) and inspiring. When the flower crowned thousands all sang “Midnight City” together, it felt like the first “moment” of the weekend.
Gallant, R&B-er on the rise, made his festival circuit debut — and he didn’t do it alone, an impressive audience showed up to check the newcomers out. With an early afternoon start time, when the masses are tasked to decide if they’ll go the route of afternoon nap or if they’ll dig their heels in and party straight through, the 23-year-old was in a tricky position as to what vibe to cater to. In the end, his talent suited both just fine. Plenty of those present laid under the Mojave Tent, and plenty ended up dancing. Save for the moments when he would unleash his remarkable range. Then, everyone just stared.