On Thursday, which seems like a long time ago now, I spent the morning recovering from seeing Revenge of the Sith the night before, then went and saw Revenge of the Sith a second time, ate some pizza (the good Chicago kind) and headed downtown to the Metro to see M.I.A. and LCD Soundsystem.
Downtown Chicago was covered with a heavy fog.
While in Chicago I developed a new hobby, taking photos from a moving vehicle while I'm driving it. Not the best hobby, but at least I don't drive very often these days.
I got to the Metro pretty early and had a nice spot right by the stage, but as it became clear to me that the show would be starting late (turns out an hour late) and that the main floor would be getting pretty packed (turns out as packed as physically possible) I traded my spot at the front of the mainfloor for a spot at the front of the balcony where I could lean on the railing all night. Had I not made that trade, I probably wouldn't have survived the show.
Like I said, an hour behind schedule, Diplo (M.I.A.'s deejay and a superstar of sorts in his own right) took the stage and played a few records before M.I.A. came out.
Perhaps you say M.I.A.'s totally awful performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show (I'll mostly blame it on the camera man) and were worried she couldn't put on a show. Turns out she can, and how. I was captivated and quite glad to know I had tickets to see her in New York in a few weeks.
She pretty much played every song from her record and a number of tracks (like URAQT) that are only on her mixtape. Diplo laid down the mixtape backgrounds on a few of her album tracks (like "Bingo" over Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" and "M.I.A." over Dead Prez's "Hip Hop") and even tossed in some backgrounds that aren't found on her record or mixtape (like sneaking Casjmere's "Percolator" in at the end of "Galang", which I'll take as a nod to old-school Chicago house music).
In short, her set was brilliant and well worth the wait.
As I had seen LCD Soundsystem fairly recently, I wasn't sure if I was going to stick around for their set. But they convinced me to stay for the beginning by taking less than 15 minutes to set up all of their equipment which had been stacked unassembled behind M.I.A.'s screen during her set.
And then I thought I'd stay for just a few songs, but James Murphy and company attacked their set with so much awesomeness that I was stunned. While LCD Soundsystem was definitely good when I saw them in New York, this night they were positively apocalyptic. I could not believe it. While I gave the last LCD Soundsystem show what I thought was my highest possible praise by calling it "bananas" this one went one crazier (and certainly went more than one louder) so the only way I can think to improve on "bananas" is by saying that the show was: Platanos.
And the kids of Chicago gave right back. The crowd appeared on the verge of spontaneous combustion throughout the entire set and I was so glad to be relatively safe in the balcony throughout.
Of course, chilling in the balcony all night seriously diminishes the quality of the photos you wind up taking.
I went down to the back of the floor to get a closer look at the carnage during the band's absolutely bone-crushing rendition of "Yeah" that ended the night. I'll say it now without hesitation: this concert was the best one I've seen all 2005, and it'll be a tough one to beat. (I'm guessing it remains unbeatable until the White Stripes tour supporting "Get Behind Me Satan", and those shows haven't even been announced yet). It was almost enough to make me consider going to LCD Soundsystem's M.I.A.-less show here in New York in a couple of weeks . . . we'll see what happens.
Leaving the show I saw this great sign and took a picture of it.