Photos by Cheney Orr
Last night, LCD Soundsystem played the second of two warm-up reunion gigs at New York's iconic Webster Hall in preparation for a string of reunion performances this summer. The band, called it quits with a string of performances at New York's Terminal 5 and a massive show at Madison Square Garden in 2011 (which became the subject of a documentary called Shut Up and Play the Hits), but they recently announced they would be releasing new material and performing a series of dates this year, including headlining slots at festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Tickets to the Webster Hall shows, billed as LCD Soundsystem "Back from the Dead," were sold via a lottery and disappeared almost instantly.
The shows themselves offered a straightforward overview of LCD's hits and a reminder of the band's dynamic live presence. There was no new material, but what was there was flawlessly presented. It will be interesting to see how the band's material plays out on festival stages this summer: LCD are experts at hitting a dance groove and songs like "All My Friends" are undeniably huge sing-alongs, but some of the most thrilling moments in their show come from the cacophonous clashes of noise on songs like set opener "Get Innocuous." Either way, the dedicated fans were out early Monday night, and there was plenty of enthusiasm outside the venue.
It's been five years since LCD Soundsystem played a show, after all. In that time, everyone has aged and become less cool—the fans who showed up last night may have had one of the hottest concert tickets anywhere, but they were in line for a reunion show. They had officially lost their edge. So we asked them about it.
Michael, “almost 30,” Brooklyn
Noisey: Do you have any favorite memories in New York associated with LCD Soundsystem?
Michael: Actually, this is my first time seeing them.
So you were not there...
When they first hit the scene? No, I wasn't. Not live, anyway. But I've listened to them. I think I found them in 2007.
When did you start losing your edge, personally?
Oh, a very long time ago.
What's one of your favorite New York City music experiences?
I got to go backstage at an Arcade Fire show that was really tiny a few years back. They did that weird Reflektor Tour a while back, and a friend brought me backstage, and I got to hang out with Richie Parry and a couple other people. It was fun. I feel like that's an experience of knowing people and being here a long time.
Well that's kind of how New York works, right?
I guess. I kind of hate that, but it is how it works. Double edged sword.
What’s your favorite LCD Soundsystem song?
“Someone Great” probably, although I really like “Yeah (Crass Version).”
Carl, 31, Brooklyn
Noisey: When did you start losing your edge?
Carl: Boy, probably right around 29.
What was it that did it?
I was walking to work one day, and I was listening to either James Brown or LCD Soundsystem, and I realized I didn't give a shit about trying to find other music any more. I'd found the two bands I wanted to listen to.
You lost your edge. You did it.
That's it. I'm out.
Do you have any favorite memories listening to LCD Soundsystem?
I was at the last MSG show. That was the first time I'd seen them, and I thought would be the last time I'd see them, too. I dressed in all white; a couple of my friends dressed in all white. We really went for it, had a great time. And I loved that.
What's your favorite LCD Soundsystem song?
“Yeah (Crass Version).” Hands down.
Ryan, 26, Harlem
Garrett, 24, Bed-Stuy
Shayla, 24, Harlem
Wes, 24, Bed-Stuy
Noisey: When did you guys start losing your edge?
Ryan: That's a ridiculous question.
Wes: I plan on losing my edge tonight, thank you.
Garrett: I'm not sure if we ever really had an edge to lose.
Wes: No, I mean that song's all about the age gap that he's talking about.
Garrett: Within the last two months, I've felt like it actually.
Wes: Losing my edge is like when I find out that Justin Bieber's younger than me. That's when I'm like "oh, fuck."
Garrett: When you watch American Pie after you've graduated high school. Pretty sad moment. That's it. Watching American Pie as a sophomore in college.
Do you guys have any favorite memories of LCD Soundsystem?
Garrett: He [points to Wes] played in a student band in college.
Wes: We were basically an LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads cover band for all of college. This was at Colorado College. Our final big concert was called Shut Up and Stop Making Sense, which was like their concert film and the Talking Heads' concert film put together. And whenever I would forget the lyrics to an LCD Soundsystem song, this tall motherfucker would be in the crowd like –
Garrett: Screaming the lyrics.
So you guys are intense fans.
Wes: We've been doing this for a while. But never been to a show.
Garrett: I've never been to a show.
Ryan: You've never been to a show?
Shayla: No, no we have not.
Ryan: I am so obsessed with this band. I saw them for the first time in 2007 at Randall's Island with Arcade Fire, and since then I've seen them countless times. Wellmont Theater, shows in New York. When they did that final show, they didn't reveal all those Terminal 5 tickets beforehand, so I was like “whatever it takes, I'm gonna be there.” So I spent like 400 dollars for me and my girlfriend to go to this show, and then James was like “we're adding all these other shows.” I bought tickets to every single one of those, too. Saw them Monday through Thursday at Terminal 5, and then capped it off, which is probably the greatest night ever, at that MSG show. Anybody who's been there will tell you. It was a 35,000-person dance party for four hours. I'm not really sure if an LCD memory can top that. The Shut Up and Play the Hits doc says it perfectly: “If it's gonna be a funeral, let's have it be the best funeral ever.” It was like magic like you couldn't comprehend. I'm such an LCD nerd my email is [reference to LCD Soundsystem title] at gmail.com.
Shayla: That's dedication.
Wes: I was ledzeppelinrocker for like all of middle school. I really rocked that.
Shayla, do you have any favorite LCD memories?
Shayla: Oh man.
Wes: Don't look at me.
Shayla: My high school and college are peppered with experiences related to LCD. One of my best memories is their [Wes’s] band, right before our graduation, they were playing at our commencement ball. It was literally all of our friends, together, in front of the stage, and them playing “New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down.” That was one of my favorite memories from college.
Garrett: One more that I think might be worth telling is: In July, one of our best friends took his own life, jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. At the end of his memorial, Wes took out his banjo and played “Someone Great.” Just the instrumental. And then we all started coming in, “when someone great is gone, when someone great is gone.”
Wes: And Sean, who had died, he had really gotten me into the band. So I'll definitely be thinking about him tonight.
Terry, 26, Connecticut
Andrew, 26, Connecticut
Noisey: So you said you were in the movie?
Andrew: Yeah, I was in the movie. Spike Jonze gave me the set list of the last show. I got it signed by James Murphy and everything. Basically what happened was, you know how the MSG show, it sold out? I was a member of DFA's forums at the time, and James Murphy actively was on the forums. People that were complaining, he basically set up his manager to email us and put us on will call at MSG. Me and my friend went to the last show together. We were front row, right in front of Pat Mahoney the entire show. If you watch the Shut Up and Play The Hits DVD, the second “Dance Yrself Clean” hits, there's one person jumping real high.
It's been five years since they broke up. What did you spend the first five years doing?
I got really into Animal Collective. I went to a lot of festivals. Went to a couple of James Murphy’s DJ sets, stayed active in the DFA community. Shit Robot's record just came out. Really great artist. Juan Maclean: awesome. DFA just puts out really quality music, and they do good parties around the city, too. It's a really cool record label.
What are your favorite LCD Soundsystem songs?
Terry: “Beat Connection” and one off of their Nike CD, I really like. Pretty much all of them.
Andrew: I would have to say “Home,” on their last record. It was the perfect way to end. They made a perfect trilogy of records, and it was a perfect way to end the last record if that was to be their last record. Obviously it's not going to be their last record now. It was just perfect. It's a real feel good song.
Paul, 27, Brooklyn
Amelia, 25, Brooklyn
Noisey: When did you start losing your edge?
Paul: I lost my edge in my car. I honestly don't remember how I got the CD. But I had the CD, and it never came out of my car. For years and years and years. The first album was the CD I listened to in my car, and the other ones had meaning here and there.
I appreciate that people keep interpreting “when did you start losing your edge?” as “when did you first listen to LCD Soundsystem?” I really meant: When did you stop being cool?
Paul: Do you know when I stopped being cool?
Amelia: Before we met.
Paul: Way before we met. Are we talking music edge? Or anything? I guess if your edge is like what you're into in culture, then I don't really feel like I've lost it.
What's one of your favorite LCD Soundsystem memories?
Paul: I was in LA, and I had just been dumped. I listened to “I Can Change.” I was in a place where it was just like a transition period. And I went to visit my friend, and I was feeling really down, and I was listening to them and walking around that city. Which even though he's based in New York, it does have a very kind of LA feel to it. The lyrics, that song is about being in a state of transition. LCD Soundsystem do very pop music about how you feel, but it's not just about this one girl, this one thing. It's about experience overall.
What is your favorite song?
Paul: “I Can Change.” But I got really into the live album, Shut Up and Play the Hits. When they do “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” there's this one lick, when he says “Daft Punk is playing at my house,” and then the synthesizer starts playing Daft Punk, a riff on Daft Punk. It just fucking blew my mind.
Amelia: There's that saying people say where they're like being in New York is like being in an abusive relationship, that everybody says all the time when they lose their jobs and their girlfriends and their apartments. And “New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down,” I think that does a really good job of kind of summing that up. Like, New York sucks, but you can't leave. It's horrible, but you can't leave.
Bobby, 30, Brooklyn
Noisey: Do you have any favorite LCD memories?
Bobby: I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of having tickets to one of the last shows at Terminal 5 and giving it up because I had grad school. And then thinking that I was going to get a ticket to the MSG shows and not having a fucking shot in the dark. It’s a nightmare. I’ve always hated myself for that a little bit. This is redemption.
Have you lost your edge?
No. I will never lose my edge. When he wrote that song I think he was about 31. I’m 30. I haven’t lost my edge.
What’s your favorite LCD Soundsystem song?
Probably “All My Friends,” like everybody else. It’s just very nostalgic for me.
Katie, 26, East Village
Teresa, 29, East Village
Teresa: It’s my first show since MSG and her first show.
Katie: I’ve never seen LCD before.
Noisey: Do you have any favorite memories of the band or their music?
Teresa: My brother and I were living together at the time, we moved to New York together when we both got out of Alabama. He got me a ticket, and it was the first time we got along in two years. It was a bonding moment. And he got me this bracelet, and now I just love the band. It’s a big symbol for our family.
When did you guys start losing your edge?
Katie: What are you talking about? I’m wearing a sequined jacket! We still have our edge! Are you kidding me? We have not lost the edge yet. I know how to Snapchat. That means I still have edge. As long as you know you how to use Snapchat, you’re good to go.
What are your favorite LCD Soundsystem songs?
Katie: “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.”
Teresa: “Dance Yourself Clean” because when people let you request one song from the DJ, it’s one of the longer ones. It’s the ultimate Bernie song [does Bernie].
Casey, 28, Brooklyn
Maria, 28, Brooklyn
Noisey: What are some of your favorite memories of LCD Soundsystem’s music?
Casey: I guess the best one would be when we were at the house party at the place I now live at. We had the DJ put on “Pow Pow,” and we tore up the floor.
Maria: Like nobody was dancing. It was just me and this guy.
Casey: Like three years ago.
Maria: My graduation night in college, I sang “All My Friends.” It was like everybody was there, and I was leaving Florida to come here. That was a big one for me.
Well, it’s been about five years since you’ve graduated with college. Did you spend them getting with the plan? Or—
Maria: Yeah, now I’m going to get back with my friends. I’m like on the verge of those two things I think. I think I can do it all. I don’t think it’s that dichotomy.
You’ve got the plan and the friends.
Maria: I’ve got them all.
Casey: In the words of LCD Soundsystem, “look around you, you’re surrounded, it won’t get any better.”
Maria: We’re, like, your chosen lame-os to interview.
No, it’s perfect. Because I wanted to ask: How much time do you waste every single day?
Casey: Oh man, I was just about to say that’s one of my favorite lyrics! “Be honest with yourself, how much time do you waste every day?” That’s a great one. A lot!
Maria: I’d say about four hours every day.
Casey: Sixteen maybe. The time sleeping is not wasted. I need that.
Do you guys feel like you’ve lost your edge?
Casey: I think I’m gaining. I lost my edge a long time ago. I’ve been gaining it since I moved here.
Maria: Really? You stay at home on the weekends.
Casey: No, not every weekend! Maybe on the weekdays.
Maria: I think I’m gaining my edge. Absolutely. I don’t give a shit anymore. That’s a waste of time: Giving a shit. Caring too much about what other people think. Nope!
Casey: That’s another one: “Your night will come, but tonight is our night, so give us all your drugs.”
Maria: Yeats, right here. I mean: Murphy!
Do you guys have a favorite LCD Soundsystem song?
Casey: “Pow Pow!” Gotta be!
Maria: That’s so hard.
Casey: Maybe for you “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”?
Maria: Yeah, probably. Even though I don’t feel that way any more. I’m like mid level. I’m like moderate New York.
Wait, so what happened when you guys danced to “Pow Pow?”
Casey: The floor cleared out, and it was just us, I guess. There were others, but they couldn’t shake a candle to us.
Maria: That’s why I brought him tonight and no one else.
Rachel, 28, Union Square
Rachel, 28, Brooklyn
Noisey: Do you have any favorite LCD Soundsystem memories?
Rachel (right): Well, we saw them a few years ago at Terminal 5.
Rachel (left): One of their last shows.
Rachel: Second to last one. It was amazing.
Rachel: It was amazing.
The two of you?
Rachel (right): Yeah, and some others. But they couldn’t get tickets tonight.
So not all your friends are here. Just someone great.
Are you just naming off LCD Soundsystem songs?
Rachel (left): We’ll dance ourselves clean, you know.
What was that show like?
The vibe was amazing. We were talking about how everyone at that concert was so friendly and so happy to be there. It was a different type of crowd than you would normally get at a show, where everybody was like a community of people who cared about this band.
Is there a moment when you guys started losing your edge?
It depends. I go back and forth. I feel like we’re at this place in life where you’re starting to become a real adult.
Rachel (right): And then you look back and you’re like “I was there, but I’m old now.”
Rachel: I was cool back then.
Rachel: Now I don’t know what is going on.
Rachel: But at the same time it’s still a lot of fun.
Rachel: We’re still relevant I think!
James Murphy writes all these songs about New York. Do you have any favorite NYC memories, musically or otherwise?
We were actually talking about this right before. We went to this other show. It was this Arcade Fire show. It was like a surprise show in a Bushwick warehouse. They made us dress up in like black tie, like masquerade. It was to debut their most recent album. And that was very New York.
Rachel (left): Only in New York could you do something like that: Go to a warehouse, Arcade Fire just like plays a surprise show, everyone’s dressed up and wearing glitter. It was magical.
Rachel: We’re hoping tonight is gonna be like that.
Rachel: I think it will be.
What are your favorite songs?
I love "Get Innocuous."
Rachel (right): I love "Home."
Rachel: "Someone Great," all of them. They’re all amazing. Also you know what I love? "Tribulations." I love that. It just like makes you feel. Gets you amped up.
Jerzy, 33, New York
Kara, 32 “until tomorrow,” Connecticut
Noisey: When did you guys start losing your edge?
Kara: Have we? I mean, we’re in line for LCD Soundsystem, so…
I’m sorry, but everyone here has definitely lost their edge. This is a reunion show.
Jerzy: It’s retro now.
Kara: We were at the farewell show!
Jerzy: Some time since the farewell show, it crossed over.
Do you guys have any favorite memories you associate with the music?
Kara: I started listening to LCD Soundsystem a great deal when their last album came out. That was basically a soundtrack for me for about a year. Just throwing my headphones on and walking home, walking around the city. I used to get off the subway a few stops early and just walk around and listen to it.
I think James Murphy would appreciate that. Where did you live at the time?
Astoria. So I lived near the 30th Ave stop. I would get off all the way at 36th Ave sometimes if it was a nice night and just walk across Astoria, just have my headphones on.
What about you?
Jerzy: I mean, that summer when This Is Happening came out was a pretty great summer in a lot of different ways. It was like a transitional point in my life and my experience of living in New York City. I was down in the dumps several months before, and then I had this amazing summer, these amazing people. I made a lot of wonderful new friends, and that really was the soundtrack. It sort of feels like they’re the document of New York over the last ten years. The sound of the city in a way. A little bit of going back to something that used to exist.
New York is always changing, right?
And full of people who are yearning for the thing that they saw that it was several or 30 or 40 years in the past. We all just want to be in a Woody Allen movie. It’s like a theme park full of people who want to be in a New York that doesn’t exist anymore.
Cheney Orr is a photographer based in New York. Follow him on Instagram.
Kyle Kramer has learned a little bit more about his neighborhood, which is important. Follow him on Twitter.