Version published April 10, 2011 on WVAU.org, American University’s student-run online radio station. Original here.
Daft Punk played at James Murphy’s house for the last time Saturday night, April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
To the dismay of fans, Murphy, frontman of the indie-electro-dance-punk-etc. ensemble, announced Feb. 5 that LCD Soundsystem would play their final show on the first Saturday of April, after just 10 years together. Murphy has been in the music business since the late ‘80s with various relatively unsuccessful bands, getting a late start to success in his thirties when LCD started off in 2001. Now 41, Murphy decided it’s time to take a step back. “It’s all just gotten bigger than I planned or wanted. Not that I’m against it but I don’t want to get bigger,” Murphy told Pitchfork. “What’s the goal now — get f–king huge? I don’t want to be a famous person.”
‘Twas a classy affair, as the band asked concert-goers to wear black and white to celebrate LCD Soundsystem’s “one big last party.” The night kicked off with openers Liquid Liquid, who served as a solid warm-up for the headliners. The band, recently reunited after breaking off in the ‘80s, sounded like a milder, rockier LCD, but their short half-hour set was somewhat forgettable in comparison to LCD’s mega-show.
Divided into three parts, LCD’s first act featured hits any casual fan would know the words to sing along. “Dance Yrself Clean” was the perfect opening song, sending attendees the message to get ready to not stop dancing for the next three hours — a request to which the crowed eagerly obliged, scanning of the arena revealed a sea of bobbing bodies and raised arms. “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” was given a soulful-twist into a Stevie Wonder-esque jam complete with twangy beats and a featured saxophonist, which introduced the brass section that would accompany LCD through the rest of the show. Closing out the first set was fan-favorite “All My Friends” which exposed the cloud of sentimentality that hovered over MSG with lyrics like “And to tell the truth / This could be the last time / So here we go.”
The second act was larger than life, delving into a funky, galactic theme. Initially confusing, incredibly odd and totally awesome, LCD took the audience on a journey to outer space, playing “45:33” in full, mixing in the futuristic “Sound of Silver,” complete with a white diamond structure and Reggie Watts in a green-lit helmet sitting a spaceship-box. This is presumably part of the “weird experience” Murphy warned about at the beginning of the show.
And so arrived the last act of LCD Soundsystem’s last show. A massive disco ball descended from the rafters and it was the very last chance for Murphy and Co. to pull out all the stops.
Special guests of the night included Grammy-winners Arcade Fire who added to the background vocals on “North American Scum” — appropriate for the Montreal-natives, and a song that LCD hasn’t performed live in years because “I don’t know, we’re f–king idiots,” said Murphy.
Saving their most tremendous songs for last, LCD played favorites like “Yeah,” “Losing My Edge,” “Home,” in the close of the show. The already colossal songs took on a new, full sound and engulfed the crowd as LCD magnified and amplified every beat, consuming every inch of MSG.
In a three-song encore, LCD Soundsystem ended their career with the obvious-and-cheesy-in-a-completely-epic-way with “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” As the beautifully drawn out, swelling rendition of the song ended, thousands of white balloons fell over the crowd, signaling that the show was really over.
“It’s like New Year’s except next year we’re dead,” Murphy joked at the end of the encore, which doesn’t sit well because it’s all too true. Fortunately for the band and fans, LCD’s final show felt nothing like a funeral.
LCD Soundsystem, you were perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Watch James Murphy’s fantastically witty banter and the beautiful, emotional last song of the encore, “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down,” in its entirety:
And for fun, here’s Park’s and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari crowdsurfing during “Yeah”: