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Re:Set Concert Series With LCD Soundsystem, Jamie XX, Idles, Big Freedia At Brookside At The Rose Bowl, Sunday June 4th 2023

 LCD
LCD Soundsystem at Re:Set concert series

This new Re:Set concert series is a new concept, a festival à la carte with three headliners rotating through similar stage setups in three cities over a weekend. In Pasadena, Steve Lacy, Boygenius, and LCD Soundsystem were respectively the headliners last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the same concerts also happened in the Bay area and San Diego, just in a different order. Re:SET is also traveling and hitting different regions across the U.S. during June, as the same acts take turns swapping venues over one weekend before taking off for another region to repeat the same process.

We had the choice to attend a single day (or as many days as we wanted) and, last weekend, I opted for Sunday – I already had something else on Saturday – and drove back to the green hills of Brookside at the Rose Bowl. It’s a very familiar place by now since Goldenvoice has probably decided to use the location at any opportunity. The experience had not a short festival feel, a mini festival with just 4 acts, starting at 4 pm and ending relatively early (around 10 pm) and this was perfect for a Sunday night. Plus, there was only one stage, so no scheduling conflicts as this is often the case at bigger festivals. Securing a spot at the stage at the beginning of the afternoon was a guarantee of a good view for the entire event.

I first thought that the bills were designed to group similar acts together: Clairo was unsurprisingly opening for Boygenius on Saturday, but Idles and LCD Soundsystem on the same bill on Sunday? This was not too obvious at first. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both but Idles are a furious raucous punk band that triggered a mayhem in the crowd whereas LCD, even at their punkiest, started a fun dancefloor. But that was probably the fun part, the eclecticism of the lineup, all curated by James Murphy himself.

Talking about eclecticism, the first act of the day was the non-binary queen of bounce Big Freedia, a quite puzzling choice in this lineup. Big Freedia is a transgender rapper who dropped her first album in 1999 (although I am not sure which pronoun I should use), and her command of the stage was impressive right away. This was certainly upbeat and mood-uplifting as the dancers never stopped twerking under a very hot sun turning the scene into a sweat house from the beginning. A part of the crowd started shaking, twerking, and wobbling, but some people behind me protested the lack of energy of the first rows. I have never thought that the crowd should participate at any price, so please…. don’t ask me to follow! After 40 minutes of this twerking circus and intense butt-shaking spectacle, it became a bit tiresome for all senses. Those who were into it may have recognized “N.O. Bounce” and “Azz Everywhere,” and Freedia’s sampling of Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” soon overwhelmed by more ass-shaking. The New Orleans queen of bounce and twerk is a bombastic performer if I have seen one; the set was so loud and so over the top that it could have driven plenty of people completely crazy, but it was a bit too early for that.

Idles from Bristol, England followed with the insane punk energy they are famous for. No more ass shaking but plenty of head banging. Sonic assaults building up over raw distortions were frontman Joe Talbot’s playground for the entire set and this expectedly triggered the only mosh pit of the day with plenty of crowd surfers. Talbot deepthroated the mic and swung the cord like a manic, Mark Bowen, who was wearing a long white dress, pulled a few Marylin while the rest of the band – Lee Kiernan on guitars, Adam Devonshire on bass and Jon Beavis on drums – brought up this pure positive energy, this mayhem of raging, roaring and blistering guitars and drums for everyone’s pure pleasure. As usual, Talbot delivered the songs with his graveling vocals and a fist-pumping-over-the-top male energy, while putting down male energy. At the beginning of the set, he screamed: “Well, fuck the king!” That was the perfect introduction to Idles’ socially-and-politically-charged lyrics rooting for the underdog and raging against privilege and the upper class. All their songs (a medley from their four albums) were delivered with urgency, bare yells, sudden accelerations, and pure chaos. The set would not have been complete without Bowen crowd-surfing with his white dress in the middle of a song, and without Talbot asking us to get “low, low.” He may have been more successful than Big Freedia asking us to move our butts. Idles even squeezed a raucous Mariah Carey cover between the homo-erotic “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” and the pro-immigration tune “Danny Nedelko.” They closed their set with a long version of the anti-fascist “Rottweiler,” leaving the crowd around me all excited and asking for more: Idles may be rockstars in their country but here, they are heroes. At the end of Idles’ performance, an English woman begged me to let her reach the front row because she wanted to grab the setlist: “I came from England!” she said… and she may have left the festival right after them. I am not sure, but I cannot imagine die-hard Idles fans loving this all-over-the-place lineup.

Idles’ setlist: Colossus, Car Crash, Mr. Motivator, Meds, Mother, Crawl!, The Wheel, Grounds, Wizz, Never Fight a Man With a Perm, All I Want for Christmas Is You (snippet of Mariah Carey cover), Danny Nedelko, Rottweiler

Idles were a hard act to follow, but Jamie XX didn’t even try to compete. I always find DJs extremely boring to watch as I just don’t see the point to watch someone wearing a headset standing behind a table in the middle of a festival. Even though his set was sort of making more sense and fitted well next to LCD’s dancescape, I would have largely taken one more hour of Idles instead of this long hour of Jamie XX’s EDM-ish/house/techno/club medley. His mix was mostly coming from the dance/rave scene with a house-electronica vibe and multiple vocal samples while LCD’s giant disco ball was already hanging at the top of the stage. Despite some dance moves in the crowd, his DJ set surely brought things down a lot, and if people recognized “Gosh” and his newest single “Let’s Do It Again,” I cannot say that the set had a vibrant personality.

LCD Soundsystem is always a full house, and the band always performs on a very crowded stage. In this sense, James Murphy is the anti-David Byrne, who has recently cleaned up his stage from any electric cords and instruments. I hadn’t seen LCD Soundsystem for a while, but they surely continued to play the hits, “I Can Change,” “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” “Losing My Edge,” “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down,” “Dance Yrself Clean,” “All My Friends”… while embellishing them: a Kraftwerk or a Daft Punk snippet here, a New Order or a Yaz snippet there. Everyone wants to hear those, but the band freshened them up with these musical detours and kept them even more interesting. Of course, they also played newer songs, “Oh Baby,” “Tonite,” or new body rhumba,” recorded for the soundtrack of Noah Baumbach’s film “White Noise,“ and a fun song about death,” as Murphy said. Even though I could not see all of them (this is the problem of a very crowded stage) the band was playful, with guitarist Al Doyle moving the most on my side of the stage. A very energized James Murphy sometimes climbed a small stage elevation when he was not kicking Pat Mahoney’s crash cymbal or holding a mic to Nancy Whang. He kept taking off his jacket, “I can’t decide if it’s hot or cold,” but he ended up in a t-shirt after a few high-energy numbers. Most of the time, the crowd was on its feet, dancing and moving, especially during the disco-punk jams of “Daft Punk” or “Losing My Edge,” the most well-known songs that brought up large doses of nostalgia. James Murphy introduced LCD Soundsystem’s famous slow cathartic tune “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” as “his attempt at Broadway,” and they closed the night with the unavoidable “Dance Yrself Clean” followed by “All My Friends” fulfilling die-hard fans’ hearts. It was a relatively short set with no encore due to the strict curfew but with plenty of climatic moments, crescendos of electronic dreamscape, and joyful reminiscence.
LCD Soundsystem’s Setlist: Get Innocuous!, I Can Change (with Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love” snippet), Daft Punk Is Playing at My House, Oh Baby, You Wanted a Hit, Tribulations, Tonite, new body rhumba, Someone Great (with New Order’s “Your Silent Face” outro), Losing My Edge (with Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock” and Yaz’s “Don’t Go” snippets), Home, New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down, Dance Yrself Clean, All My Friends.

 

 

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