Plus a star-powered hour from Sia, Run the Jewels' politicized set, Grace Potter's raucous dance party
After months working the festival circuit, making pitstops at big names like Coachella and Bonnaroo, LCD Soundsystem closed out New York’s inaugural Panorama Festival with a vibrant set full of crowd favorites that even the exhausted, overheated audience couldn’t help but dance to.
The band, who reunited this year after breaking up in 2011, kicked everything off with “Us v Them” as a disco ball hovered above. From there, they hit other sing-along-friendly tracks like “Daft Punk is Playing At My House,” “Get Innocuous!” and “Tribulations.” While many of the weekend’s acts used the accompanying big screens to show supplementary videos during their sets — Kendrick Lamar played black-and-white archival footage while Sia rolled clips featuring stars like Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano — LCD Soundsystem kept it simple and let the cameras zoom in on their minimally decorated stage and disco-inspired visualizers.
This was for the best: Because they had a curfew to make, frontman James Murphy explained early on that he’d be forgoing chit-chat so they could pack in as many songs as possible. This lack of banter could have come at the cost of a connection, but instead, their complete focus on the music made them feel closer to the audience. After all, you don’t go to an LCD Soundsystem show to hear James Murphy rant about the world; you go to an LCD Soundsystem show to forget about the world.
When Murphy did talk, though, he seemed genuinely happy to be there. “Thanks very much, New York,” he said after the first song. “Oh boy. Oh geez. It’s very nice to play at home.” This marked their first show in New York since playing their comeback shows at the city’s Webster Hall in March.
He had a bit more to say on his home city toward the end when they launched into “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.” Even that song, a relative downer, roused the crowd, and the energy only went up as they launched into “Dance Yrself Clean” — an order the audience heeded — and, finally, “All My Friends.” This is the same run of songs they’ve been closing most of their shows with, and for good reason. The trio of tracks perfectly embodies LCD Soundsystem’s strengths: the dark humor, the catchy-as-hell dance anthems, and the nostalgic sentimentality.
“All My Friends” especially resonated: The Sound of Silver cut is poignant enough on its own, but takes on a new – and even more emotional — life live. Audience members jumped up and down, and groups of friends wrapped their arms around each other as Murphy sung the refrain, “If I could see all my friends tonight.” Even once the stage lights came on and it became clear that an encore wasn’t on its way, much of the audience stayed still, consumed by what they just saw. LCD Soundsystem might have been gone for a few years, but this show just further proves that they are definitely not losing their edge. —Ariana Bacle
Watching Sia perform live is like stepping into one of her music videos. The camera-shy pop star may have started her Sunday evening set from center stage, but she quickly took a backseat to a team of dancers, who recreated the mesmerizing choreography of her YouTube clips, and actors like Kristen Wiig, Gaby Hoffmann, and Paul Dano, who performed the same moves in pre-taped segments that played on the giant screens flanking the stage. Between the cameos, the props, and of course Sia’s raspy goal—you can hide her face under her signature two-tone wig, but there’s no mistaking that voice—it was a show unlike any other at the festival, with no shortage of bells and whistles to hold the audience’s attention.
Concerts at their core are about connection, and Sia’s theatrics—she never spoke to the audience, nor did she emerge from behind her bangs—kept the usual festival sparks from flying between the artist and the audience. Still, if anyone has songs that can speak for themselves, it’s Sia. Her latest solo album, January’s This Is Acting, was made up of rejected songs she wrote for the likes of Adele and Rihanna, but her hour-long set on the main stage only emphasized her hit-making abilities. Tracks like “Reaper,” already one of This Is Acting’s most anthemic tunes, felt bigger and grander in a live setting. Others, like her delicate 2004 breakthrough single, “Breathe Me,” felt as vulnerable and intimate as they did on record—even in front of thousands of people. Sia herself remained as elusive as ever, but it’s hard to think of a better way to cool down in the heat than getting chills as crowds sang along to her stripped-down version of “Titanium” while the sun set over the park. —Nolan Feeney
Run the Jewels
Nearly two years have passed since hip-hop superduo Run the Jewels released their second album, Run the Jewels 2, but its songs seem more fitting than ever given 2016’s political climate. The pair of Bernie Sanders-supporting MCs kept a steady dialogue running that helped fiery protest anthems like “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F–k)” and “Early” reach their full fist-pumping potential. “Mike, you ever notice that every time you see one of these s–t-eating kind of politicians talk on the television,” El-P said before his partner interrupted him: “F— ’em, my man is out of the race!” El-P then continued: “We know at this point that when they say that they care about you and when they say they will fight for you and when they say that they have your best interest in mind, you should translate that no matter what language you’re in, pretty easily what they’re really saying is lie, cheat, steal, kill, win.” But RTJ’s set transcended grim paranoia, with Mike and El cracking jokes — including one at the expense of a less-than-enthusiastic LCD Soundsystem fan camped out in the front row — and even bringing their families out on stage to thank them for their support. Taken together, the kindheartedness and political awareness reaffirmed why Run the Jewels are one of the best hip-hop acts currently working. –Eric Renner Brown
Sunday in New York City was scorching—temperatures hovered near triple digits well into the afternoon—so getting a crowd to rock out before sundown was never going to be a simple task, but Grace Potter, her trippy, outerspace-inspired stage design, and her seven-piece band took on the task by thrashing about the stage. The 33-year-old is still touring in support of her 2015, pop-leaning solo debut, Midnight, but she made sure to spoil longtime fans with some of her most beloved songs with the Nocturnals, her longtime backing band. “The Lion the Beast the Beat” and “Stars,” both released in 2012, were met with cheers of delight while the set-closing “Paris (Ooh La La)” closed the show. And while the crowd that gathered under the Pavillion Tent was small, fans thanked her kindly, using the extra space for bigger dance moves. —Madison Vain