James Murphy wasn’t sober.
He was, though, less drunk than he’d been a few nights earlier.
“I am much less drunk tonight,” said Murphy, lead singer of LCD Soundsystem, as Webster Hall’s sold-out crowd roared welcome on April 12 to a band that has been off the road for three years.
Murphy’s state of mind for the earlier gig at the Music Hall of Williamsburg attested to his declared love of champagne mixed with whiskey. Unusual tastes for this average-looking fellow with clean-cut hair, blue jeans and white button-down shirt. No matter: He played great shows both nights.
The seven-piece, New York-based act pumps out electronic music mixed with pop and rock. They opened with a new number called “Pow Pow” from their third release, “This Is Happening,” out May 18. It developed a disco feel that clicked into the familiar infectious LCD groove.
The opening lines of the popular “Us V Them” from the band’s 2007 “Sound of Silver” sowed the kernels of insanity, and frenzy ensued in due course as the bass line kicked in.
With “All My Friends,” a repetitive piano figure and steady drums gave way to the song’s climax of “Where are your friends tonight?” Sweat dripping down our cheeks, we looked around and knew where they were.
Then the lights were dimmed while green and red laser beams cut the room. “Yeah” from their self-titled debut album began to fill the venue with energy and the instruments erupted like last week’s volcano. The place was on fire and LCD Soundsystem proved why it’s one of the best live acts, period.
LCD Soundsystem will be back in New York at Terminal 5 for four shows May 20-23. Tickets remain only for the final show. Don’t wait: It’s sure to sell out, too.
When the Berkeley, California, quartet called the Morning Benders released its sophomore album “Big Echo,” the buzz was big enough for three sold-out New York-area shows. They didn’t disappoint at the Mercury Lounge on April 28.
With baby-faced lead singer and guitarist Chris Chu out front, the band drowned fans in reverb-soaked vocals and mood- swinging sounds. The opener “Stitches” was a slow and dark number that built into a wall of sound. The unrushed music had chord changes like deep breaths.
“Pleasure Sighs” exhibited stop-and-go moments that had the effect of calming the crowd. It didn’t last long as the highly danceable “All Day Daylight” came in at a rapid yet controlled pace.
Saving the best for last, “Excuses” presented a well- crafted song with continuous harmonies looping around another wall of sound. The night ended in silence crossed with awe.
This month the up-and-coming Local Natives of Silver Lake, California, are at the Bowery Ballroom May 6-7. A favorite of mine from the CMJ festival, the band has finally released its thrilling debut album, “Gorilla Manor,” which showcases harmonizing talents and a style built on folk and rock.
Pioneer grunge gods Pearl Jam are at Madison Square Garden May 20-21. Their latest release, “Backspacer,” is arguably their best effort in more than 10 years.
Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in May. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets:
May 3 Peter Gabriel at Radio City Music Hall May 4 Yeasayer/Sleigh Bells at Webster Hall (SO) May 5 Shout Out Louds/Freelance Whales at Webster Hall May 6 Local Natives/Suckers at Bowery Ballroom (SO) Beach House/Washed Out at Webster Hall (SO) May 7 Local Natives/Suckers at Bowery Ballroom (SO) Caribou/Toro Y Moi at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) May 8 Broken Social Scene at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) May 9 Jonsi at Terminal 5 May 11 Phosphorescent at Union Pool May 12 Two Door Cinema Club/Bad Veins at Bowery Ballroom (SO) May 13 Everybody Was in the French Resistance_Now at Union Hall May 14 The Golden Filter at Mercury Lounge May 15 Dr. Dog/Deer Tick at Terminal 5 May 16 Metric/Bear In Heaven at Terminal 5 May 17 Mumford & Sons/The Middle East at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO_ May 18 Mumford & Sons/The Middle East at Webster Hall (SO) Keepaway at Mercury Lounge May 19 Public Image Limited at Terminal 5 May 20 LCD Soundsystem/Holy Ghost! at Terminal 5 (SO) Pearl Jam/Black Keys at MSG (SO) May 21 LCD Soundsystem/Holy Ghost! at Terminal 5 (SO) Pearl Jam/Band of Horses at MSG May 22 LCD Soundsystem/Holy Ghost! at Terminal 5 (SO) Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band/Dawes at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) May 23 LCD Soundsystem/Holy Ghost! at Terminal 5 (SO) May 25 Roky Erickson With Okkervil River at Webster Hall May 26 Holly Miranda at Bowery Ballroom May 27 Dylan Fest 2010 (various artists) at Bowery Ballroom (SO) May 28 The Besnard Lakes/Land of Talk at Bowery Ballroom May 29 Ellen Allien at Santos Party House May 30 MONO/Twilight Sad at Bowery Ballroom May 31 Athlete/Carney at Maxwell’s
(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on this story: Jaime Widder in New York at email@example.com;