Malkin Bowl’s great resurrection as the new summertime venue is, two shows in, beginning to show its cracks. As great as it is to have a new-ish midsized place for these next few months, the majority of shows already booked start in September. The Flaming Lips will be a great show rain or shine, but Sept. 17 seems a little late by any estimates. The shows that happen in warmer weather, meanwhile, can expect a late sunset and a tight 11 p.m. curfew to cause their own problems. LCD Soundsystem can serve as a bit of a primer, then, for the Bowl’s drawbacks, and how to make an audience forget them.
Taking the stage at a little after 7 p.m. to a newly blue sky, Holy Ghost! found themselves playing to a mix of fans that had arrived hours earlier, and fans that were arriving halfway through their set; all of said fans were equally soggy. Holy Ghost!, with help from Tyler Pope and Nancy Huang for the first few songs, tried hard to fight this general apathy, and probably would have succeeded in a club or bar. The… “swooshiness” of their music, however, was their worst enemy in front of this large a crowd; paired with a limp snare, most songs sounded too muddy to really get into. They’ll probably have more luck opening for Chromeo, indoors, from August on.
Taking the stage to a crowd-exciting combo of “Us V Them” and “Drunk Girls,” LCD wrote themselves a blank cheque from the audience to do whatever they wanted, and have it be well received. Luckily, James Murphy didn’t seem content delivering anything but the best show possible, as evidenced by LCD’s setlist. Covering all albums equally, the band somehow found time to surprise and delight in song selection. When they went from “Yr City’s a Sucker” to “Pow Pow” back to “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” for example, or playing “Movement” instead of taking the easy route and jamming five extra minutes in “Tribulations.” The work done onstage by LCD’s six other live members left Murphy in the role of a singing frontman, which worked out to be more fun than having him hunched over a synth the whole time anyway. Song after song sounded tight, and dense, and fun.
It was as the sun was setting, though, that the show’s most lasting qualities came out. Favourite of everyone “All My Friends” was more gentle than epic, and gave the show a feeling of intimacy that recurred frequently. Save the set closing and mind-bogglingly fun “Yeah” (with lasers!), the more emotional songs won out. Even in the encore, “Losing My Edge” sounded good, but “Someone Great” was better. Any debate about the feel of the show was silenced, at least, by the show closing “New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down.” During the pause after the end of the singing, but before the outro, the lights dimmed, and as many LCDers as could sing joined together for an achingly beautiful go at the chorus of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Between that, the lights, the dancing and the songs… This show wasn’t Vancouver’s last-day-of-school; it was our prom. We can all promise now things will be the same a year from today, but we all know that isn’t true; LCD Soundsystem won’t be there.