You’d be forgiven for thinking the coverage of LCD Soundsystem has gotten out of hand lately. The band’s “final” show at Madison Square Garden, which sold out online in a matter of seconds, may have been more than a publicity stunt, but it prompted a whole lot of effusive publicizing either way (and, full disclosure, I’m part of the problem). At one point during the three-hour-plus performance, frontman James Murphy called the whole experience “weird,” seemingly catching on to the discomfiting juxtapositions of everything going on around him: a smarty-pants indie dance group (the smartest-pants act to command such attention since the Talking Heads) taking over Manhattan’s biggest concert venue for a night; an entire arena full of a mix of Brooklyn hipsters and Jersey bros making nice so that they could all wave their phones and chant along to “All My Friends.”
Of course, James Murphy is more interested in making music than performance art, and on that level, the show didn’t disappoint. Contrary to some very hyped expectations, this was not a groundbreaking concert—no statement-making video art, no lavish costume changes. What it was, for the LCD fan, was satisfying. Murphy stuck to what he knows, in his trademark black suit, and he put his all into it. At the beginning of the show, he announced, “This is going to be long,” and it was (the band took two intermissions to recharge). The set list started with the favorites off the new album (“Dance Yrself Clean,” “Drunk Girls,” and “I Can Change”), then rotated through the earlier stuff off LCD’s groundbreaking debut and the weaker Sound of Silver. Things got subsequently stranger as Juan MacLean came on for a performance of Murphy’s Nike composition 45:33 and Arcade Fire showed up as surprise backups for “North American Scum,” looking more than a little out of place in folk-rock plaid.
It goes without saying that everyone was on something: light beer, pot, pills, and a whole lot of self-love. It was hard to look out on the massive crowd getting its collective groove on and not feel like you were witnessing something special. Even the security guys got into it, one of them sounding apologetic when he asked a group of frat boys to put out their joint: “Sorry, my boss is watching.” About halfway in, my friend and I moved down to a closer section, where no one seemed to mind that we were invading their space.
As last shows go, this one wasn’t very sentimental. People tried not to think about LCD’s breakup, mostly because it just doesn’t really make sense. They tried to focus on the good vibes. Even the most morose songs sounded joyous. Everybody just danced.