I Was There at Webster Hall When LCD Soundsystem Reunited


You know it’s no coincidence that first of LCD Soundsystem’s reunion shows happened on Easter.

Given that, you may have expected more long-term die-hards, the people who were there the first time, true believers present to witness a miraculous rise from the dead. But this audience was young. Young in the way that high school seniors see middle schoolers: small and unreachable, distant like faraway stars. Young like makes-me-realize-I’m-officially-a-judgmental-old-person young. And they were all extremely happy.

I have more in common with them than with fans closer to my age: As my boyfriend, who is five years older than me and actually from here, reminded me, I was not here for LCD Soundsystem’s “heyday.” I assumed this meant something similar to being semi-fluent in a language, as opposed to being a native speaker. Seeing them for the first time at their reunion would be an exercise in cultural anthropology. I could never fully understand everything I was about to see, the adulation, the miracle.

At ground level, everyone within blast radius is on Snapchat, taking video of the stage even before the show starts. Upstairs, when the performance begins (with the stomping, we-missed-you-so-fucking-much barn burner “Get Innocuous”) the balcony begins to shake. The thing that means you’re forty or fifty feet off the ground — like you could conceivably fall from it and die pretty easily — that thing is practically lurching back and forth.

Looking out over the undulating mass, paranoid that these may be my last moments on earth if the balcony collapses, I start seeing lighters pop off around the audience like fireflies. The music has started, so the kids are smoking weed.

The vertigo sort of went away by the second song, when the technical difficulties started. Later on, James Murphy explained, “the worst idea is to build a modular synthesizer and hope it works no matter what temperature it is.” Whenever anything crumbled even slightly, all eight musicians on stage stopped and dove into the task of setting things right. A few made banter with the grateful audience.

It was wonderful to see. Shit went wrong and nobody on stage batted an eyelash. There was no ego, no stress, just a group of proactive adults with realistic expectations, helping one another get ready for the next song on the journey.

So they get their shit together and, in a power move that perhaps no one was expecting, they bang headlong into “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.” It seems a little early in the set, until we’re about halfway through the song, by which point it’s apparent that they’re playing a nominally more layered, slightly sped up version that kind of sounds like Pizzicato 5 covering LCD Soundsystem.

James Murphy goes hard on the cowbell.

Things are fun and clumsy and everyone is so psyched, and so loud. They turn on a disco ball, big as the moon, bathing the room in a perpetual eclipse. It’s magic. LCD Soundsystem has not played a show in five years. People are shitting themselves over this band getting back together. And they’re really, really killing it, and everyone is relaxed and having fun, and now this dreamy disco ball casts a flattering light on the whole scene, blessing everyone in it.

Philosopher Alain Badiou talks about the concept of ‘the event’ as an intersection of time and location— right place, right time. This is the magic of live music that no hokey industry-themed movie or show could ever hope to capture. Here, now, neat dance numbers become feelings-driven percussion free-for-alls; horn players join in on “Freak Out”; people say a swear or two.

It’s an event if there ever was one, and the audience, though it may not have been here for the first go-round, knows it. It’s as if by attending, we’ve consented to stepping out of time: back and forth between 2016 and 2003, making local stops. And after “Someone Great,” Murphy thanks the audience for doing whatever they had to do in order to be there — as if he knows they’ve traveled through time, because he’s also come that distance, because of the mutual understanding that it was all completely worth it.

Set List:

Get Innocuous
One Touch
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
Us Vs. Them
You Wanted a Hit
Freak Out
Someone Great
Losing My Edge
New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

“Encore” (James Murphy said they would come back and play more “whether you clap or not”):

Dance Yrself Clean
All My Friends