Section 302 at Madison Square Garden: the opposite side of the arena from the stage, a little off to the right and up at the top of the mountainous stack of mezzanines that make up the city’s famous arena. After scaling the many flights of steps to the top—this place needs to hire some sherpas for these seats—I took a short breather, waiting for James Murphy and the rest of LCD Soundsystem to take the stage.
A slow, electronic drum beat started as the group wandered out. This beat then morphed into the opening of “Dance Yrself Clean,” the group’s go-to opener since the release of This Is Happening. The enormous pounding synths that entered after the intro blasted with the help of about a million watts worth of blinding white light bulbs. From up in the stands, the general admission ground floor looked like Lake Michigan during a thunderstorm.
I started to notice that the sound quality where I was seated sounded like the apartment next to mine was playing LCD Soundsystem while I was sitting on my couch. The bass and snare was heavily present, the melodies could be deciphered but none of the instrumental nuances could be made out. Also, section 302 was about half full. There was a gap or two between each person, definitely too much room to for someone without a wildly large amount of confidence to dance. Didn’t this show sell out in faster than it takes some people to sneeze? Why are we not all shoulder-to-shoulder, wrapped arm in arm, joyously celebrating the good fortune of seeing such a landmark event? Either the scalper’s greed was higher than the actual demand or there was something else going on here. After squinting and trying to figure out which person on stage was Murphy, then realizing the finger tapping sound I was hearing was actually the opening drum beat to “Drunk Girls,” I knew it was time to venture out and investigate.
The journey brought me to the isles between rows down lower in the mezzanine. This is where the party was really happening; this is where all of the butts were that were supposed to be in the seats around me had actually congregated. Five guys in panda suits happily welcomed me onto makeshift dance floor, brightened my mood and made me thankful I wasn’t on any hard drugs. These dance parties were always short lived though; an usher, understandably, would begin to worry that someone might get hurt of maybe fall off the balcony to their death so they was quickly cleared. After about nine attempts with nine different aisles, I ended up almost being thrown out for lying to an usher, claiming I was in one of the seats in the adjacent section.
Murphy owned the stage. The modern day big band leader, appropriately wearing a black suit, guided his some 15 person group through three and a half hours of an almost career spanning three part set. Three hours have never gone by faster. The group blazed through the sets with remarkable ease, never losing the crowds attention and never seaming to get tired. The usually stoic Nancy Whang let loose, holding down keyboard, synth and singing duties but also cracked smiles at Murphy from time to time, at one point even appearing that she was bit choked up. Big ups go out to Hot Chip’s Al Doyle, who looks like a German engineer from a Volkswagon commercial but wore a tank top as proud as any body builder on Venice Beach and laid down moves to rival James Brown’s, all while elegantly moving between guitar and keyboard, never breaking a sweat and never slowing down. Drummer Pat Mahoney apparently wasn’t wearing pants. Luckily he only stood up at the end so this was an unknown fact for anyone as far away from the stage as me. I’m surprised I remember that much. The whole thing was such a happy dancing, blur.
“This is our last three songs,” Murphy said, just like it was any show about to finish. The weight of that statement didn’t sink in with the crowd until a minute or so afterwards. I saw a few people begin to cry (a little overboard for my taste) and could sense that everyone else entered into a much more somber mood. This isn’t what I wanted. LCD is a party band, were supposed to dance and be happy and be drunk together with this happy music and happy band. Thankfully, the mood brightened when “All I Want” began to play, followed by the Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire,” and then of course closing with the more epic than ever, “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” White balloons dropped from the ceiling, cheers erupted, Murphy thanked his band, they all took a bow, left the stage and just like that it was over. At that moment LCD Soundsystem had officially disbanded.
Thanks dudes, it’s been fun.