Roadie music–the tunes that play in between sets while band techs hustle an act's gear onstage–by rule tend to gravitate towards an artist's musical influence. In an almost assured first for Coachella, obscure psychedelic rock group Silver Apples greeted the Main Stage leading up to LCD Soundsystem's set. The 60s New York group's droning beats inform the music of James Murphy's band, sharing grooved figures in LCD Soundsystem's sonic blueprint with the deep dives of disco.
Murphy's catalyst, however, is a waver between his mid-life introspection and his lasting punk-influenced disdain. Long story short: dude is bitter, aging hipster. But for a guy who looks like Brett Favre's ne'er do-well older brother and who only gained fame amidst his mediocre 30s, Murphy engages a striking and mature duality in that he both whispers on graceful age (“Something Great,” “All My Friends” from 2007's Sound of Silver) and shouts against a hip life passing him by (early singles “Losing My Edge” and “Yeah”).
With Sound of Silver, Murphy moved further to a quiet introvert. However, as forthcoming This Is Happening and LCD Soundsystem's set are proving, he's going back to his taut way. “Losing My Edge” and “Us v. Them,” both denouncing the ethos of cool, played prominent roles in the group's set. Tipsily apologizing to fans for playing two songs in a row, Murphy and his band launched into songs from hotly anticipated This is Happening. The psychological split couldn't have been more apparent than in the new record's “All I Want,” an inquisitive cut which channels solo Eno and “Heroes” era David Bowie to a fault, and “Pow Pow,” a bunch of drunk spoken words and sleek disco beats taking the piss out of hipster lifestyle. The closing “New York, I Love You” seemed prim in comparison, even when Murphy completed the phrase with “… but you're bringing me down.” The takeaway? LCD Soundsystem's new record is gonna be a bitter pill to swallow. –Mike Orme