a love letter to lcd soundsystem
Not long ago, a friend inspired me to do a “30 Day Song Challenge,” wherein every day we posted a song on Facebook based on a different prompt. One of the days was simply, “a song by your favorite band.” I thought about this for an embarassingly long time, and eventually came to the decision that in the war between The Wrens and LCD Soundsystem, the Wrens must win by virtue of having been in my life longer.
As it happens, love isn’t measured by time, and anniversaries are just markers of sentimentality. LCD Soundsystem is my favorite band – or was my favorite band, if you want to get technical, until about 12:30 this morning as cheers rang out in Madison Square Garden and white balloons fell from the ceiling. I am comfortable with admitting this love, and I am comfortable with saying the words “favorite band” in a gooey-eyed way that defies my adulthood. You can act like a grown-up, and you can act cool enough to understand that entertainment is only entertainment, or you can live your entire life falling in love with things more reliable than people and having a really wonderful time doing it, and I guess at some point in my life I chose the latter.
I have always enjoyed LCD Soundsystem; they have always been literate but perfectly danceable band in a world where the two often stand in stark opposition. I listened to their self-titled when I needed some instant dance jams, and when Sound of Silver came out, I began to realize that this was a band that was there when I needed them on any occasion. Still, it wasn’t until they began the legwork for their last album cycle that things really began to get serious; I bought tickets to their surprise Music Hall of Williamsburg show on my 29th birthday, and after that, my frame of reference changed entirely.
If you know me, you’ve heard me speak of this show as the “best I’ve ever been to,” with a slight twinge of incredulity that I, who have spent my life going to shows, could narrow it down. It stands as true, however, that no matter how much I love a live band (The Boss, I still heart you), the best shows for me will always be the truly dance-worthy ones: the ones where everyone around me is freaking out as much as I am. There was a Prince show in the early 2000s where the crowd opened their umbrellas and swayed to “Purple Rain.” There was Le Tigre’s first show at Dumba, technically awful but full of pure enthusiasm. There was Daft Punk’s Coney Island show, at which I arrived straight from a job interview and danced in dress shoes and a button-down like a paralegal on spring break. There was a !!! show at the Knitting Factory years ago that marked the first time I left a show in New York drenched in sweat from having danced my heart out with strangers.
And there was LCD Soundsystem at the Music Hall on my 29th birthday: they were drunk, I was drunk, we were all a little sloppy, but we were there and god, were we all excited to be. It is difficult not to talk about that show without sounding like an asshole straight out of “Losing My Edge”: I. Was. There.
That show was a springboard for everything that’s happened in the year to follow, buoyed by repeat performances at Terminal 5, The Wellmont Theater, and the eventual and inevitable last show ever at Madison Square Garden. I’ve never jumped up and down for so long a period of time, smiled so hard for so long, or cared so little that a show was dangerously close to stretching into hour four. It was bouyant.
LCD Soundsystem, I love you for a million reasons. I love your obvious dance sensibilities. I love that your lyrics are as literate and as accurate as poetry about our generation and our city can ever be, and I love that I can revel in them when I’m excited and hide in them when I’m devastated. I love that I have an unabashed crush on every member of this live band, and it does not escape me that you share a member with that !!! show where I first realized that liking dance-rock was a thing I even did. I love that your frontman heads up a label with an ethos and a roster I can get behind, and that my first real experience of you as a band was James DJ’ing a benefit show for me at a time when no one cared about how “cool” he was. I love you – and really, this isn’t a thing I should ever admit – more than I’ve loved a boy. (Or as I said last night, “boys and puppies and single malt scotch.”)
I love that you’re infinitely quotable and profoundly uncomplicated and unspeakably talented. I love that at the end of the day you’re a band full of people who travel in the same circles of friends as the rest of us, because New York is a small town at heart and a place where there’s no such thing as a rock star.
Most of all, I love that you, unlike so many of the rest of us, know how to write a really great ending.