This is how it starts: You trudge across a long curve of asphalt in the cold to reach a concrete monument to fast cars in the middle of Elroy. The rain trickles before it spills, and you feel a little sorry for yourself, you poor, bootless thing. But then you notice the guy in the cardboard-box robot costume, catching a sad gleam on his chassis under the tall and lonely lamps, and you wonder if his silver facepaint will get runny. The rain will have only gained intensity as you make your way to your seat, past men in tutus, and by now your socks are completely soaked through. Big Freedia is under the grandstand. It strikes you as a deeply sad sight, the queen diva’s jubilant booty ministrations confined under tailgate tents set up on the stage. You might have to twerk to keep up your circulation.
But then, on Halloween night in the Austin music scene’s own middle-of-nowhere, the rain will stop. The sheets of water pushing their way under the seats and past your waterlogged sneakers will stop, too, and the show you came to see will start. Your friend will say, “That's what a disco ball is supposed to look like.” (It really, really is.) If you were worried about the weather, you would soon feel silly.
Call it a dead man’s party, or call it a monster mash. But on Tuesday, LCD Soundsystem haunted the Austin360 Amphitheater with style, and you would have been hard pressed not to find feet possessed.
Once the something wet was gone, James Murphy and the gang emerged in various states of undead splendor. Special shoutouts should go to a decomposing Nancy Whang and a zombie prom queen Gavin Rayna Russom. Murphy — in a Louise Brooks wig, white facepaint and blacked out eye sockets — gave the impression of general ghoulishness (or of a panda in drag). The spooky garb, seasonal as though it might have been, bent the band’s emotive house party symphonies through a power-goth prism that was, quite honestly, a convincing vibe. I would pay money to see Alice Cooper Soundsystem any day of the year.
“We’re a little distant, but not emotionally,” Murphy told the audience, in one of the first of many sincere expressions of gratitude toward the fans who stuck out the soaking shivers until showtime. The band had to set everything farther back on the stage, so as to avoid frying Whang’s keyboard (and perhaps Whang herself). But Murphy promised to brave the edge of glory as much as possible during the evening, despite slippery danger. (He made good on his word.)
Now, you don’t end up at an LCD Soundsystem concert at a racetrack on Halloween night by accident. You make a conscious decision to don your chicken suit and feel the percussive, electrifying pulse of “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” and also to scream “LOVE IS A MURDERER” while wearing a banana suit as the weirdo recursive bop of “I Can Change” takes you away. On a night when you could hold a red Solo cup at some house party where all the cupcakes have gummy worms in them, or when you could cue up a David Lynch movie on TV, a dance-rock extravaganza is strictly left-field.
The soggy romantics at the LCD Soundsystem show played their best off the beaten path Tuesday night. They were rewarded with the veins-open candor of “Someone Great,” and the rare opportunity to scream “The worst is all the lovely weather/I'm stunned it's not raining” with manic, ironic grins. “All My Friends,” always a great unifier for the communal concert experience, tied the chattering masses together in urgent movement. To party, to keep your toes from going numb, whichever worked the best at the moment. A Louise Belcher hat or a Victorian dandy outfit can only go so far toward either goal.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to dance yourself warm.