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January 27, 2013 - 9:41pm

James Murphy lit up the Crofoot with eclectic set



Pontiac is a peculiar place to see James Murphy, the ex-leader of our dearly departed LCD Soundsystem. The city is well-known — among high schoolers, at least — for its 18-and-under club nights and men with copious amounts of hair gel. James Murphy, au contraire, is a style-icon whose former band’s final gig was at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Maybe that’s why he took almost five hours to set up his turntables.

The barrage of no-name openers weren’t particularly offensive, and the crowd was too drunk to care — except for the ennui-laden hipster chick in front of me, she seemed miserable. But when it hit midnight, people started getting a little antsy.

Finally, at 12:40, we got our first glimpse of Murphy. The crowd — which was a head scratching combination of Pontiac locals, intoxicated parents, and chambray-clad yuppies — had been dancing along unperturbed for a few hours at this point, but found its second wind upon seeing the man with the fantastic beard set up four — four! — turntables.

As a child of the digital DJ revolution, I was astonished that someone could have the manual dexterity and timing to sync up everything by hand, but James Murphy is simply a product of a more noble time. I could actually watch him select records for the hour and a half set he played, and his choices were damn near flawless. He may believe that he’s ‘losing his edge,’ but I didn’t see any hints of that.

His underground pedigree was on full burn as he played deep tracks from all sorts of funk, soul, rap, and early electronic records. His set seemed like something that would’ve been played in the underground clubs where Murphy developed his skills. No huge bass drops, no house beats, just live sampling and a crowd that would’ve been stopped in their tracks had they been able to stop dancing.

—A version of this article ran in the print version of the Daily on Jan. 28, 2013.