LCD Soundsystem Might Just Save New York

LCD Soundsystem Might Just Save New York

Reflections on how the seminal New York City rock band impacted a generation.

Reflections on how the seminal New York City rock band impacted a generation.

Text: Ilana Kaplan

For me, LCD Soundsystem has always been synonymous with joy. I first discovered the band when I was a teen perusing The Hype Machine, which I did on the regular. Around the same time I found a fondness for Hot Chip, but LCD Soundsystem became an extension of my teenage years. I'd leave my suburban New Jersey hometown for the night every time the band came to town and bring my best friends with me. Up until their faux retirement in 2012, I had seen them at least once during every run they had. While LCD Soundsystem wasn’t playing residencies, their shows were often — enough to help their rise as a seminal New York band.

Like many other music aficionados, I've had an affinity for LCD Soundsystem that I've never quite wanted or been able to shake. Let me get this out of the way — yes, I'm a millennial. I think of the party scene in the second season of The O.C. where I first heard "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House." I hear "All My Friends" when I think of the last summer before I left for college, non-stop dancing in an old friend's living room wondering what was going to happen to our lives after we left New Jersey. I hear "New York, I Love You" every time I get frustrated with the shortcomings of the city and the disappointment that often takes the place of hope. In a lot of ways, LCD Soundsystem has been with me as I evolved from a starry-eyed teen to a jaded adult. I relied on LCD Soundsystem to help me let go, be present and express myself. They were my band. LCD Soundsystem' represented a special connection between me and my friends, and that's what originally made them special to me, but they've become a source of unity for New Yorkers at a time when society is at odds with one another.

After over five years of not seeing the post-punk electronic act, I finally was able to bask in the glory of pulsating synths, a trippy disco ball, dripping sweat and Murphy's husky choir vocals last Tuesday night. Perhaps a faux retirement was the best thing that ever happened to LCD Soundsystem because although I had seen them live time and again, they had never sounded better. There was a change to note onstage — longtime member Gavin Russom revealed her trans identity — and proved once again that LCD Soundsystem is a band that promotes self-expression in the best way possible. As they entered their second New York residency at Brooklyn Steel this year, they were there to own the title of a “New York band.” The show was even crafted in three sections, like their own Broadway show. Hits like “Us vs. Them” and “Tribulations” preceded a four-song block of new material, including the debut of their fifth single (“Change Yr Mind”) from their forthcoming album, a brief intermission and a finale of two oldies.

During the last two songs, “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends,” Murphy reasserted his dislike for fans recording the band’s shows — he instilled the importance of being present at a show, disconnecting from technology and connecting with the people around you. Instead, I become nostalgic and remember the way “All My Friends” narrated some of the most beautiful moments of my youth. My eyes are filled with wonder, and my iPhone is away: I’m dancing into the night. It’s a hoorah to the cool kids, the misfits, the creatives and the dreamers. New York suddenly gives me hope again.

Credits: PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL L CARTER

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