About one or two years ago I really got into this electronic/rock band, which is also incorrectly labeled dance-punk (there isn’t much punk in their music, in my opinion). I’d heard of them before, and I was even familiar with some of their songs like “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, but I never had a reason to listen to them. It was one of those bands that you keep hearing about but don’t really care enough to listen to. Until I finally “got” it. They are called LCD Soundsystem.
If I remember correctly, the first time they caught my attention was when I was presented a weird, and kind of boring video of a bearded chubby dude singing something about music elitism and general hipstertude; it was “Losing my Edge”. I liked the song a lot and something about the video got me hooked, so I got their first album, LCD Soundsystem. It sat on my library for a long, long time, until I was traveling around the United States and one afternoon I ran out of music to listen to and somehow ended up listening to it. That was the first time that it really “clicked” with me. Up until then I didn’t know why I was listening to that music, it wasn’t really my style. But then I understood it. I actually remember the moment where I was walking around and thought “Wow, this is a band I can get into”. It was during “Beat Connection”, and I was walking under the bright fluorescent lights of a department store.
I never really got into that album. I liked some of the songs from the first disc like “Tribulations” and “Movement”, but for the most part I thought that disc was average. The second one was better with “Losing my Edge”, and the two versions of “Yeah”, but it still wasn’t mindblowing. At least not in comparison to Sound of Silver. Maybe it’s the fact that Sound of Silver is more condensed and focused, but that album is just really, really damn good. I have some very good memories of driving around with that album. It was right around the time when I was into The Hold Steady. Those two bands were pretty much the only music playing in my car for couple of months. Especially Sound of Silver and Boys and Girls in America.
Then their third and allegedly last album came out, This is Happening. I had mixed feelings about it. Subjectively, I loved it. It was danceable and smart, just like everything they’d done before. But there were also some songs that were stupid or boring or too long. I didn’t get “Pow Pow” until I heard it live in their London Sessions recording. I still think “Somebody’s Calling Me” should have been shoved off of the album, and instead they should’ve put something like “Yr City’s a Sucker” in. “Drunk Girls” never really bothered me, but a lot of people hated it. I thought the video was really funny. Then there are also some songs that are among the best that LCD has done. Personally, I think the opener and the closer are the best parts of the album. “Dance Yrself Clean” makes you wait and turn up the volume, but when it explodes into a multitude of noisy synths and drums, it makes it all worth it. “Home” is catchy, honest and I just fucking love it. “You Wanted A Hit”, I believe, is a response to “Drunk Girls”, and it says a lot of things about labels and shit like that. “All I Want” is comparable to the role “All My Friends” plays in Sound of Silver. It’s sort of the feel-good anthem of the album, but it falls short in comparison to the allmighty “All My Friends” (more on that later). “I Can Change” is great and very danceable and fun, but sometimes it bores me. I like this album a lot, it flows very well, but is also feels long at times. Is it LCD’s best? Maybe. I guess objectively it is, and it’s also a great last album for them. The perfect closer.
Oh, “All My Friends”. It is one of my favorite songs by LCD. It just says so much without saying much. The thing about LCD’s music, and especially, their lyrics, is that they make “dance” music sound smart and relevant instead of just saying stupid shit that they came up with 5 minutes before they recorded (although, not always). They may not have the most eloquent writing ever, but at least they try to talk about real stuff. “All My Friends” is an example of this. I can’t really tell you what it’s about, but it just brings this sense of nostalgia and sadness with lines like “If I could see all my friends tonight” and “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another 5 years of life”. I don’t know why, but that song always gets me. There’s something about that piano that slowly turns into a celebration of joy and memories and rainbows. It’s one of those songs that sounds monumental even though it has just a few instruments mixed in. One of my favorite songs, ever.
Last December I got a chance to catch them live. It was very, very hard for me to get there, but I did it. I sort of knew it was going to be my only chance to catch them live, and they are one of those bands that you have to see live. The concert was at 8 on a city that is 3 hours away from my city and I had a final exam that was ending at 6. I wasn’t going to make it, especially with traffic. I tried rescheduling the final for about 2 months but everyone told me it couldn’t be done. I had to literally force someone so that I could take the exam earlier that day and it was all very shady. I don’t know why they made a big deal about it, I just wanted to take it a few hours before. I finally left my city, alone, at about 3 PM. All my friends (ha!) are poor and/or ignorant, especially when it comes to indie/hipster culture. Throughout the ride I listened to a selection of LCD songs, as well as the self-titled album from The Drums, I remember it clearly. I got to the city pretty late and I had to take public transportation from one part of the city to the other side. The bus took about 2 hours to get me close to the venue and I still had to walk for about 20 more minutes before getting there. On the bright side, I saved about $20 that I would have payed for a cab. I got to the venue around 8:30, but when I entered the place it seemed pretty empty.
Weird, I thought, and then went to get a beer. I met and talked with a dude with dreadlocks for a while and after I questioned his hygiene, I started wandering around waiting to see what was up. Soon after that, a hipster came out and started DJing for us. He was good, and he played for about 30 minutes. Apparently, he was a local. Shortly after him, LCD came out. I should probably mention that the place was already full by then, and I had a pretty good spot. I was already on my sixth beer, enough to get me dancing and yelling things to Mr. Murphy. They opened with “Dance Yrself Clean”, and probably heard my girly orgasmic screams until the explosion thing happened and everybody started dancing to the grooviest song ever. I have since declared that song the best opener I’ve heard in a concert. Other songs happened and everybody kept dancing awkwardly in their spots. “Get Innocuous!” got everybody loosed up and they just kept the hits coming. Then “All My Friends” happened and I got into that concert mood where you don’t really give a fuck about anything that isn’t happening on the stage. I was just staring at James and company while my body was being pushed around. That moment right there, is why I go to concerts.
But it still got better. After AMF, they brought out their most danceable songs in a combo and decided to turn the place into a big dance-off. The disco ball was rolling and “Tribulations” started. Crazy, crazy moves. But then “Movement” happened and everybody lost their shit. No more, I thought, but then “Yeah” happened and I got the feeling that my body was too tired to make it through that song. That part where they go into a jam was pure ecstasy. They elongated it, too. Then they played “Someone Great” after that triple combo and gave us a chance to rest. I like that song. It’s lovely. “Losing My Edge” followed and I sang along with James through the whole god damned song. After all, it was the song that introduced me to LCD. I don’t remember when the encore happened, but I’m sure it was during the last 3 songs. Anyway, “Home” was the closer. Except it wasn’t. After “Home”, they started playing “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” and I thought, fuck me and fuck you LCD Soundsystem for being so awesome. But then, something of a miracle happened. It was like a holy vision or some shit like that. They stopped in that part where “New York…” stops, but instead of going into the really noisy loud part after the silence, they started playing “By This River” by Brian Eno. People were crying and shit and I thought, fuck me and fuck you LCD. I can die a happy man. “By This River” ended, and they went back to playing that noisy part of “New York…”. James said goodbye and left while the rest of the band finished the song and closed the night. It was a great concert and a crazy night. I won’t describe the rest of the night, but it involved a foreigner, a cab driver and his “hoes”, DUI, and me sleeping on a bus at 3 AM on winter. It was worth it.
As you may have already heard, last weekend LCD Soundsystem announced their last concert would happen in April at MSG, scalpers included and everything. As I predicted, I wasn’t going to see them live again. I’m just very glad I got to see them and I’m also happy that they are ending on a bright note, unlike most bands. They delivered 3 great albums, they put on amazing shows, and now it’s time to go. They pretty much molded their own genre and gave rise to a lot of current bands. They were a big part of the sound of the last decade. And they were part of a chapter in my life that I will be remembered of through their music. Farewell, LCD Soundsystem. It’s been nice. I’m excited to hear what you’ll all do next.
So, where are your friends tonight?