This past weekend in New York, LCD Soundsystem shut the door on it’s nearly ten year career in grand fashion, playing over three and a half hours to a sold out Madison Square Garden. In February, James Murphy and Co. announced that they would play one final show and close out their career on top playing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
“If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best damn funeral ever” was the message on the band’s website. When tickets went on sale, fans had all of 15 seconds to grab them before the majority got snatched up by scalpers and within minutes tickets were available for as much as $1500 through different outlets. After a statement from James Murphy on LCD’s website entitled “F**k you scalpers, Terminal 5 shows added” it was apparent that this one last blowout was going to be a more drawn out process, with a final run of 4 shows leading up to the MSG performance.
In LCD Soundsystem’s breakout 2002 single “Losing My Edge,” James Murphy spends eight minutes citing some of his major influences and boasting “I was there,” at the same time satirizing and defining the hipster movement that would blossom in the following decade. It is perhaps a little ironic that LCD’s (final?) exit has now become one of those “I was there” moments, well before the show even kicked off. The Terminal 5 shows acted as a rehearsal of sorts for the final blow-out; each show lastin g over 3 hours and road-testing a live version of the workout mix issued for Nike, 45:33 as the second set. Most of the band’s catalog was played throughout those shows, which lent to the hype for MSG even more
When Saturday evening came around, 20,000 fans dressed in black and white at the bands request filled into the arena at 9 pm after an opening set from Liquid Liquid that was rather empty and seemed out of place in the venue. LCD Soundsystem opened with “Dance Yrself Clean” which at the breakout point midway through the track encouraged all in attendance to do just as the title suggests. The first set consisted of several of the band’s hits including “Drunk Girls,” “All My Friends,” and “Daft Punk is Playing at my House” – the latter of which prompted several “D – P” chants amidst speculation of a surprise Daft Punk appearance (which wouldn’t be the first time at MSG for the robot/human duo).
There were several other guests who joined the LCD Soundsystem on stage though. For much of the show the band was backed up by an all-male choir decked out entirely in white as well as a horn section lending to the regular lineup of the band. Reggie Watts also made an appearance during the 45:33 segment lending tripped out vocals to some of the spacier sequences. Speaking of space, there was also a triangular spacecraft parked inside of the arena, housing fellow DFA label mates Shit Robot and Juan Maclean who also chimed in on 45:33. There was also an appearance in the third set from members of Arcade Fire who added virtually nothing other than more authenticity from their Canadian heritage to the track “North American Scum.”
As the third set neared it’s end, it seems as if there was more of a sense of urgency and cherishing the final moments in the band’s final song selections. In “Losing My Edge” a video montage of Murphy’s influences scrolled across the video screens which up until that point remained mostly idle throughout the show, which relied on little more than a Disco Ball and different lighting techniques throughout. “Home” featured a series of cloud images taken from airplanes that had a chilling sensation to them.
For the band’s final encore, James Murphy took every opportunity he could to thank the fans. Finally, LCD Soundsystem’s career came to a close with “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” – an ode to the city in which Murphy grew up. The song started even slower than usual and it seems as if Murphy was choking up a little on emotions. As the song reprised towards the end; an entire ceiling of white balloons was dropped on the crowd as the band played it’s final notes. One of the messages the final song is that all good things must come to an end, which seems to hold some resonance in this context. As the band quietly left the stage the fans, most of them well over a decade younger than James Murphy at 41, stood around exhausted from the night but still seeming to want a little bit more.