LCD Soundsystem, welcome to your victory lap.
The New York-based dance-rock collective, who closed the first night of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival , is one of two celebrated reunions happening this weekend. LCD Soundsystem nodded to the other, dipping into a few bars of Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" late into its set. When making a comeback, it's best to do it with a little self-deprecation.
Though LCD Soundsystem hasn't been absent from the scene nearly as long as the classic Guns N' Roses lineup - five years or so - it's been long enough in the fast-moving, trend-hopping universe of Coachella to make the James Murphy-led collective feel like elder statesmen. Consider the group grandfathers of the Coachella sound - raucous, upbeat and with a complete disinterest in easily definable genre borders.
But where a party-first mentality drapes much of the dance music present at Coachella, LCD Soundsystem distinguished itself with a sly, what-are-we-partying-for mentality. It's reflective, and ready to laugh at itself.
That mix - celebratory, melancholic and unafraid to look in the mirror - was present Friday night. The band, as meticulous in its production values as Murphy's sing-speak vocals are unrefined, paid tribute to the late David Bowie with a breezily bittersweet cover of "Heroes" but also kept it silly with the neon-coated keyboards of "Daft Punk is Playing At My House."
And is there a better end to a full day of Coachella than the we're-not-getting-any-younger anthem that is "All My Friends"? Recklessness and regrets collide as a low-to-the-ground piano propels the song forward. It's part club song, part midlife crisis panic attack. Coachella, now more than a decade and a half old itself, is mature enough to handle a little soul-searching.
It's perhaps no surprise that a set that should have been a pat-on-the-back gallop for LCD Soundsystem had a slight pall over it, for LCD Soundsystem has always questioned past glories rather than commemorated them. The band's prowess Friday night was undeniable - the zig-zag buzz of "Losing My Edge" or the rhythmic pingpong of "Dance Yrself Clean."
Welcome back, definitely, but this wasn't a band built to live in the past, and what was missed Friday was a glimpse of where LCD Soundsystem is going to take us in the future.
Martens writes for the California News Group, publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.