REVOLVER @ THE SOHO LOUNGE, MIAMI MARCH 5-6, 2004
Friday's first live act was LCD Soundsystem, coming exactly one year after the DFA's James Murphy unveiled the live act at last year's WMC. Listening to LCD's various singles and EPs, the music doesn't sound as if it would lend itself particularly well to the live arena, but Murphy and company do an incredible job of creating a dynamic live performance. "Beat Connection" is a long, slowly evolving dub-disco track that slowly gathers momentum before exploding into a loud barrage of nervous beats and Murphy's confrontational screams. It might be intentional or it might be the venue's limited sound system, but the wall of distortion created by LCD's tribal precussion, bass slaps and synthesizer squalls vibrated the entire club, focusing attention on the hypnotic, reverberating groove. Murphy played fast and loose with the lyrical rants of "Losing My Edge," improvising a stream of hilariously sarcastic verbiage, name-dropping Black Dice and telling the audience just how hard he works to make sure they have good music to listen to. The Rapture was next with a brief but pitch-perfect set. The band has gotten progressively better over the four performances I've witnessed — rhythms more complex, blasts of saxophone skronk, and songs are joined together with gently evolving dub bridges and sparkling synthesizer arpeggiations.
Saturday night was not well attended, a lot of clubbers having left to attend other events featuring populist acts like Underworld and Paul Van Dyk. !!! took the stage, their sound checks and warm-ups evolving unannounced into their set opener. Somewhere in the club, a fire alarm was tripped, but !!! didn't miss a beat, improvising right along with the shrill siren. Luckily, the venue did not ignite into a red-hot fireball like the Great White show in Rhode Island. Even if it had, I think I would have tried to catch as much of !!!'s killer set as I could before heading for the emergency exits. Their performance ended with a 20-plus minute interpolation of "Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard," a politically-charged funk song that turned the perplexed, ecstasy-fueled dancefloor into a mash of spasticated jiving. A set by The Juan MacLean traced strange connections between late-70's leftfield disco and late-80's acid house, holding it all together with elastic bass and funhouse-mirror echoes.
Every room of the SoHo Lounge was consistently bumping with celebrity DJs, their myriad sets attempting to erase barriers and connect the postmodern dots between early-90's rave culture, 80's-retro, Moroder-esque disco and the newer wave of Berliniamsburg dance-punk. It was not at all strange to hear The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" rubbing shoulders with Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness," fading into Was (Not Was)'s "Wheel Me Out," funneling out into a Walter Gibbons mix of Arthur Russell's "Schoolbell/Treehouse." When disposable culture is this deliciously eclectic, it's hard not to be seduced.