It’s May 2005. I’m 25, and living temporarily in San Francisco. There’s a band I’d read some praises about, before music blogs were the thing they are now, and I really liked their album. So I buy tickets to see them perform at The Fillmore. It’s my first show at the legendary venue, and LCD’s debut album tour. It sounded like a proper rockout, and I brought a friend who had never heard of them (or of the genre of Dance Punk) before. We got dizzy dancing our asses off and left the show in a delighted haze.
Six months later I was living in New York, and I saw LCD at the Nokia Theatre, which I think is still a venue but isn’t even called that anymore. We brought another friend with us, who had never heard them, and said “Trust us. It’ll be fun.” It was a pretty safe bet.
For the next five years I continued to see LCD Soundsytem live and support their music. I remember being in a bar in Williamsburg and hearing Sound of Silver in its entirety, having been leaked on the internet a few weeks early. I lived in that neighborhood and would occasionally spot James Murphy riding by in a cab, or on the street. (Everyone had an “I saw James Murphy at the…” story back then). But it wasn’t really about him. The music was a soundtrack to my personal choice to live inside a diverse and polluted boombox — the loud, dense streets of New York. It defined and punctuated this time in my life more than any other band could have.
In late 2010 it was time to get away. I moved to San Francisco. I posted “New York I Love You (But You’re Bringing Me Down)” to Facebook as my personal goodbye letter to NYC, and about six months later LCD played their farewell shows. All my friends back in New York were going. I contemplated flying out for it, but decided maybe I needed to let that part of my life go, and maybe even finally let my 20's go. So I watched the concert livestream, and my friends back in NY sent me a bunch of blurry stage pics and “HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO GOOD, WE’RE TRAUMATIZED YOU’RE NOT HERE” texts. I’m pretty sure I cried watching the livestream. Someone great was gone.
So my favorite band of all time, the one that was the soundtrack to my 20's, was dead after a long, explosive goodbye. It felt a bit like a castration of my favorite dance music. All that was left was watching the documentary, seeing James Murphy do some DJ sets (always fantastic but not the same), occasionally throw some of the band’s tracks into the mix at parties, and go see an LCD Soundsystem cover band (this was/is a real thing). And then, perhaps as a coping mechanism, I started really collecting vinyl. I always had a small collection of records, mostly bizarre or interesting stuff I’d find in the dollar bins at Goodwill. But over the next few years I really started cultivating and curating my collection. All I wanted to do when I got home was play a record and dance around my apartment. The world was finding new ways to discover music, streaming services got hotter, and it didn’t even make me mad that other people really dug on vinyl, too. I was just happy people were enjoying music, and paying the creators for it.
So, a year ago a friend and I started playing records at a small bar in San Francisco. That first night we packed the bar and had bodies spilling out onto the street. It was the kind of thing where people would be passing by and couldn’t not come in; it just looked like a sweaty, riotous good time. And we definitely dropped a few LCD tunes. The party became a once a month thing, and it was never not fun, though I will admit that some negative thoughts crossed my mind. I’m a 35-year-old professional lady with a ‘real’ job. Why should I be hanging out in a bar past closing time, fussing around with soundboard wires, playing vinyl for hours? What the hell am I doing here?
When I had these thoughts I’d think about James Murphy and his not-giving-a-fuck attitude, his apparent ok-ness with being a little older and admittedly a little fatter than most people up on stage. And he was sweating his heart out. And I think this is the thing; if your heart’s on your sleeve, you can get away with a whole lot. So I continued to spin records with that in mind. And I’d like to hope that now we’ve turned the page to a musical chapter where we’re it’s acceptable and awesome to be different — an aging DJ (Giorgio Moroder), or a curvier woman on stage (Adele). We’re caring about the mastery of the craft and genuine heart in music and not only the way people look; I’m excited to witness it.
A few months ago I moved back to New York. My DJ partner was in town from SF and we went to James Murphy’s wine bar in Brooklyn, and he happened to be there that night having dinner himself. I was too embarrassed/starstruck to say anything to him, but my friend spoke to him, shook his hand and thanked him for being a musical inspiration. After we left I asked my friend what it was like. “His hand… it was so soft,” he said. And I busted out laughing.
Then LCD dropped a Christmas ballad, and now they’ve announced a comeback album and tour. Apparently there are a bunch of people on the internet who are mad about this. I think fans sometimes have such a deep emotional connection to the music that they forget that bands aren’t just making music for them, they’re doing it for themselves too. Some people feel betrayed, that the final shows feel less important, like LCD is now less of a moment defined by a time and frozen in it. If you feel a little weird about the comeback, I don’t judge you, but I think it’s inappropriate to be troubled by the timing of others’ creativity. For me, it feels appropriately timed since I just moved back to the same neighborhood I lived in when they were ending their previous run, though the LCD of the past will probably always hold a special place in my heart for defining that era of my life. The band reforming doesn’t negate the experiences I had with the music whatsoever. It’s still music I’ll rock out to, and still music I’ll probably occasionally cry to. I don’t care in what form they’re back, just that they’re back and that I can hear some new stuff, though honestly I wouldn’t even mind a reunion tour where they just shut up and played the hits. And I definitely don’t care that the band is fronted by a less youthful guy with soft hands and a good taste in wine.
I think the time has come to bring back the original EDM — emotional dance music. This year, let’s share more of our emotions, and fucking dance it out to the reborn LCD Soundsystem.