near obsessive compulsion with Facebook paid off in a big way last
Sunday night when I checked my phone before I went to bed -- sad, I
know. I spotted this little gem of a blog post on LCD SOUNDSYSTEM's fanpage at 1:02 AM, announcing that they
were planning a re-release of 1,500 tickets to their
hella-sold-out Madison Square Garden farewell concert.
began plotting my plan for conquering Ticketmaster after being
foiled by the conglomerate during my attempt at presale tickets on
February 11, and again three days later during the general onsale.
Definitely had nightmares prominently featuring the jumbled nonsense of
Ticketmaster's captcha word recognition program that night.
To make a long and obviously pointed story shorter, I scored tickets last Monday. Section 420,
which is probably the worst seats you can have for a concert at MSG, as
they're actually behind the stage, somewhere in the vicinity of
Messier's number 11 banner. But at least I paid face value, which was
roughly $225 cheaper than the amount I was prepared to fork over to
StubHub in exchange for admission.
really wish I had an explanation as to why I was willing to shell out
an entire week's pay to see this band play their final concert. A lot of
thought went into what I could pitch in this space last week while
ingesting some pretty heady articles dissecting the band's curt
lifespan. A 20k word homage via Pitchfork, an analysis of the irony within their work, and even a blog post comparing James Murphy to fucking David Foster Wallace.
a difficult thing to consider: Why is your favorite band your favorite
band? Kind of an awful and arbitrary question really. The best I could
come up with is that James Murphy's intentions for this band was never
to have people dedicate dissertation length essays to LCD. He's never
taken himself that seriously, so why should we? I mean, his first single
was essentially a dig at the cool kids and the first song on his debut
album is about hosting a house party soundtracked by the same guys that
soundtracked the new Tron.
can basically be chalked up to him being a rather brilliant songwriter
that bases his songwriting off of other peoples work, never his own
self-important anecdotes. We've all probably read tales of him cribbing
the music straight from others, but even his lyrics aren't all that original. Take "I Can Change" for example.
I've probably listened to that song about 500 times since it's release
last year and I never once considered that Murphy was singing the
refrain to a woman in his life. I just assumed that he wanted to make an
buttery pop ditty that you can shuffle your feet to, so he made one.
Sort of like a tribute band, but where every song is it's own little
tribute to such a specific blip (or culmination of blips) on the vast
landscape of musical history that only those paying attention are truly
certain to whom he's paying tribute.
Even on "Someone Great,"
far and away the most emotional charged work of their catalog, it was
never quite clear if he's referencing something that actually happened
to him, or if he's merely trying his hand at a song about substantial
loss, as all great artists seemingly have at some point in their
careers. When that tune was absolutely everywhere in 2007, people asked
who the song was written about and he never owned up to writing the song
about anyone in particular. The song is out there and it's far more
effective with an open ending, being able to relate it to loss in your
own life. He let his work speak for itself.
not going to say much more on the subject, but if you read this and
ever meet me at a bar around town, ask me about LCD. If you catch me at
the right degree of sauced-ness, I'll talk your ear off about what those
two songs meant to me at weird points in my own life, or how I think
"All My Friends" is amongst the most beautiful songs ever written, and
all sorts of other corny shit.
they happened to be my favorite band to get drunk and dance around to
at a time in my life when my two most cherished hobbies were getting
drunk and dancing around like an idiot.
all this being said, there was a lot of anticipation leading up to
Saturday. And I was absolutely gleaming on the four hour ride down to
New York, when I turned into the shadow of Madison Square Garden on the
corner of 7th and 34th, when I picked up my ticket from will call, and
when I stepped through the gates at MSG for the first time in my life.
It was only when I was seated in section 75, pretending my tickets
matched my current location and waiting for the band to take the stage,
did it finally hit me: This was it.
end is supposed to be melancholy, but the 9:15 start time didn't really
give me much time to get down on myself. You try feeling sad during the
drop of "Dance Yrself Clean". I've been been to concerts at comparably
sized venues, but they've always been of the docile classic rock
variety. Never a crowd of 15,000-ish music dweebs, e-tards, hipsters,
and people who clearly could afford the steeply priced StubHub tickets,
all decked out in black and white in accordance of the funeral theme,
simultaneously losing their shit. Hands and voices as high as they'd go.
I was fortunate enough to catch LCD three times last year on their This Is Happening tour, so there was never really the feeling that I need
to hear so-and-so song. I knew what to expect and took it all in. Even
songs I never really gave two shits for ("Drunk Girls", "Sound of
Silver") sounded not real, if only because it would ideally be the last
time I'd ever hear them thanks to the almighty power of the skip button.
ran through a number of heavy hitters right off the bat, complete with
requisite awkward between song banter courtesy of Murphy, warning us
that they might play some songs we've never heard, before launching into
"Tired". We get it, you want to be obscure and indie and shit, but just
because it was on the second disc of your debut album doesn't mean it's
obscure. The internet exists. I'm nearly positive everyone in that room
had heard that song at least once.
they took a 15-minute setbreak, presumably to chain smoke and collect
their thoughts, before returning to the stage to perform their
Nike-commissioned 45:33 mix in it's near entirety. Soon-to-blow standup
comedian Reggie Watts and DFA cohorts Shit Robot and Juan Maclean lent a
hand in keeping the momentum chugging while Murphy slinked around the
stage, clearly taking the moment in during the mostly instrumental set.
times, I could only look at him in awe. He doesn't possess any
superstar attributes, especially when compared to those that generally
grace that monumental stage. Like I said, he's awkward and I wouldn't
have held it against him if he broke down in a fit of anxiety. But he
kept his cool like only someone who wrote "Losing My Edge" could.
third set was a breakneck blur. Arcade Fire sat in during "North
American Scum". They sang back up and added some pretty cute dance
moves. Probably the least conceited thing they've done in like five
years. At one point, I thought I saw someone that resembled Aziz Ansari
crowdsurf from the back of the floor all the way to the barrier at the
front of the stage, but I was pretty delirious by that point, so I
didn't say anything to the people around me. Turns out it was him. The set ended with "Movement" and "Yeah" and I could actually feel my vocal cords blistering.
opened the second encore with "All I Want" featuring the lyrics "From
now on, I'm someone different, cause it's no fun to be predictably
lame," then covered Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire". Both moments
very telling and very righteous. He then took the time to thank his
family and show the members in attendance that he was wearing his
father's watch. Probably the furthest glance we've ever gotten over his
self-imposed emotional barrier. Cue the requisite "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" closer, drop the balloons, and scene.
was only on Monday, when I got to rewatch the whole show on YouTube
(since pulled due to copyright violation), while swaying back in my desk
chair and mumbling the songs under my breath, did I realize that the
show was nearly four hours long, not 40 minutes like it felt being
there. Pitchfork live broadcasted the whole thing, so with them being
the prudent purveyors of totally kewl multimedia that they are, I'd
expect a DVD release with their logo stamped on the cover sometime in
the near future. I've also read internet mumblings that Spike Jonze had a
camera crew in attendance, so maybe even a tastier final product. A
hipster version of The Last Waltz, if you will.
only question that really remains is, will they be back? I'd say almost
with complete assurance that the answer is no. Murphy's intentions for
ending it are understandable. He's 40-years old. He has a spotless
discography. He doesn't want to be 50, playing the "Drunk Girls" to
20-somethings. He has other ventures in place, thanks to his record
label and his strong affection for coffee.
Not many can say they went out with all of this -- at the mecca with
the utmost respect of his fans, critics, contemporaries, and most
importantly, his bandmates.
going to post a setlist below, but there's a pretty good chance that if
you've bothered to read this entire rambling, you've already seen it. I
brought a camera to the show, but in my frenzied state, I failed to use
it. Thanks to those that uploaded the video scattered throughout this
LCD Soundsystem - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 04/02/11