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Review Thu Sep 25 2014

James Murphy Hasn't Lost His Edge (DJ set at Smartbar, 9/18)


James Murphy has kept himself busy since the end of LCD Soundsystem a few years ago. He runs and curates the much respected DFA Records. He also travels around the world as a DJ who is highly sought after for his encyclopedic knowledge of all things groove and disco.

Smartbar has a DFA Records residency in which periodically artists from the label stop by for a DJ set. Artists such as Holy Ghost!, Shit Robot, The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang and several others have all blessed Smartbar with a visit and it was kinda inevitable that the DFA el jefe would eventually make an appearance as well. Last Thursday, this happened as James Murphy journeyed from NYC to take over Smartbar.


I made it to Smartbar around 11:30ish or so. Black Madonna and Rahaan were both taking turns behind the booth, playing soul and disco as the crowd began to grow. What immediate struck me was how wild and gritty the selections were. Isolated vocals of James Brown mixed with primal and minimalist percussion demanded that everyone in the room dance in an unhinged frenzy. This was a trend that continued throughout their tag team set as vocal samples of funk were mixed with intrinsic disco drum patterns. Under the guidance of Black Madonna and Rahaan, Smartbar found itself trying to emulate the spirit of Soul Train line dances and it was kinda awesome.

James Murphy took over the decks around 1 in the morning, with the place seemingly at capacity. Murphy has an almost religious like following and his disciples filled the dance floor to bask in the rhythmic creations of their leader. The things he played were more polished than the opening set. I noticed sequin dresses sparkling like mirrorballs as smooth 808 drum loops and luminous synth patterns filled the air with a drug like haze, evoking the sensation of being at a decadent loft party. I looked around and saw practically everyone in a trance, consumed by the rapturous melody Murphy has made his signature.

I had to be at work in a few hours, so I bailed a little after 2. As I was outside waiting for the taxi I Ubered to show up, a couple emerged from the doors in a tipsy daze singing to no one in particular how you gotta "Dance Yrslf Clean." "Exactly," I thought as I entered the cab.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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