LCD Soundsystem. A name most New Yorkers treat with utmost reverence. In a profound way, the band – James Murphy and crew – has breathed new life into what it means to be from New York. Sure, we’ve had our share of the Nationals, Interpols, Vampire Weekends and the countless scores of bands hailing, or claiming to hail, from this great city, but none have really showed the outsiders what we’re all about quite like LCD Soundsystem has.
I grew up listening to the Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, the Ramones and the Velvet Underground. You know, the good stuff. The bands that really defined what music meant to us. Not since the great Jazz movement that began in the ‘20s and the obvious hometown shoutouts of my hip-hop heroes of youth, no artist – at least in the last 20 years – has really created something that just oozed New York.
Even at the delicate age of 11, from the moment I heard George Gershwin’s grandiose masterpiece “Rhapsody in Blue” in the opening credits of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” I knew that this is what New York music was. A sort of unabashed, emotionally charged music. And not since David Byrne and Thurston Moore churned out the hits in their heyday has a band resonated and hit so close to home with New Yorkers like LCD Soundsystem.
In the many years that have passed, despite many bands staking their claim on New York, it still felt like an empty void had been left at what was once the heart and soul of the N.Y. music scene. Try as they may, I longed for more. I harkened back to the days where I would wander aimlessly around the Lower East Side and SoHo, listening to “Daydream Nation” and the Beastie Boys fighting for their right to party. Before “they” moved in – the stock brokers, the yuppies, the out-of-towners.
I called this place home and the music is what made this sprawling metropolis feel like home. And I would have been damned if some bridge and tunnel scumbag was going to come in and take it away from me.
I had to face the facts: the New York music scene was a lost cause. The trendsetters, the movers and shakers, the pioneers? They had all grown old and probably tired of a city that started to appreciate them less and less as the years passed.
It was not too long ago that venues were being shut down by the garbage truck-load – the saddest moment of all was when CBGB had to shut its doors for the last time. People cared less for great music and art and more for such philistine things like rooting for the Yankees or investment banking. Where the fuck did my culture go? If this wasn’t bad enough, bands started to grow complacent. Making music that, to be frank, was absolute shit. And you know what? People ate it up. But all hope was not lost.
In recent years, music venues have started to sprout up out of almost nowhere. Where once decrepit buildings stood, those of us that really cared built scores of D.I.Y. venues in a musical revival that hadn’t been seen since the likes of the grunge scene in the ‘90s. Shea Stadium, Silent Barn, Market Hotel, Death by Audio, Monster Island, just to name a few. It was nothing short of a miracle. Even as so many great bands began to make a name for themselves, creating some of the greatest music this fucking world had ever seen, none of them really grasped that quintessential New York “sound.”
But when LCD Soundsystem hit the scene in 2005 with their self-titled debut album, I was totally blown away. They got it! Whether on purpose or not, they had crafted the best musical representation of what New York is. Two years later, they released their second album, “Sound of Silver,” to universal critical acclaim. It was unbelievable.
Not since Jeff Mangum sang his soul out on the “King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2-3” had I heard someone display so much emotion and absolute passion through music as when I heard “All My Friends.” He sang with such vigorous zeal and sincerity that it was hard to really take in. No amount of clever wordplay or songwriting could hide the intensity that flowed from his voice on that song. It was so tragically beautiful that I decided then and there that this was the song that I wanted to die to. Of course by this time, they had already reached a fervent and dedicated following that reached all around the globe.
Then last year, they released their final album, “This is Happening.” The news was bittersweet. This band that we all watched grow and mature from unknowns to the best and most inspiring thing to happen to New York City since the 1986 Mets
And while it was overwhelmingly sad to know that soon this band would be no more, it was another chance to recognize this band for what they did best: Write great goddamn music.
Then, early this month, the band announced what was to be its absolute last and final show together. It will be at Madison Square Garden and it will be magnificent. First of all, the sheer fact that they are playing the Garden is testament enough to what this band has brought to New York and what music means to us and them.
But once the tickets went on sale, the madness started. They sold out within half a second of going on sale. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! Half a second. Alongside the anger I felt at not being able to get a ticket, I thought, “Holy shit. They really fucking did it.”
But not all was well in wonderland. Somehow, ticket scalpers had managed to get their hands on most of the tickets that went on sale to the general public and were selling them to us for up to a 200 percent mark-up. Some tickets were even selling on StubHub for upwards of $1,500. This was fucking crazy! So as usual, nobody was happy and we asked the band what was up. James did some digging around and found the culprit to be a mixture of bad organizing, the ticket sale system and of course, those goddamned scalpers.
The frontman reported back to us on the band’s site in the most inspired piece of written work I have ever read (go read it. It will either make you feel like a humongous piece of shit or make you feel like someone great), and unfortunately this situation would be one of those where you sit back and let it happen because, technically, ticket scalping is legal.
But then what do they do? They add FOUR MORE SHOWS at Terminal 5 to lead up to their farewell show at the Garden. This is why James Murphy is the best thing to happen to NYC in the last 10 years. Tickets to those sold out just as fast and I was again left out in the dust. But at least I can live with the comfort that the tickets went to actual fans.
And for all five of you that actually care about good music, please, please, please go buy their albums. You can thank me later.