I remember where I was when LCD Soundsystem broke up and, in its own way, it felt kind of fitting. I was in my dorm room, where I lived by myself Freshman year, watching Pitchfork’s live stream. I watched the last hour and a half of the show, though admittedly Pitchfork’s coverage of the show was less than stellar and Chapman University’s wifi connection in the North Morlan dorms was questionable at best. It wasn’t the right way to watch that show, but it was the only way I was going to get to do it, and retrospectively that was fitting in its own way.
I discovered LCD Soundsystem by myself. It was the summer of 2010 when I first went to Bonnaroo in Tennessee. In the wee hours before I was to wake up, get on a plane with 4 friends, and have the adventure of a lifetime, I was illegally downloading last minute songs to prep for the trip. Among them were four songs by a band called LCD Soundsystem. A blog didn’t direct me to them, nor did a friend. It was simply a name on a list of many names, and through chance I chose to explore them. While my memory with music is shotty at this point, among those four were “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”, and “All My Friends” (the fourth, I think, was “North American Scum” but I don’t remember.)
I gravitated towards “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” – though in truth I think I was somewhat familiar with that song anyway. And from outside of a Tent that had just concluded a Kid Cudi show in the middle of Tennessee farming country, I waited for my friend Samantha Gilmore to leave the portapotty at 2am while LCD Soundsystem kicked into that specific hipster party anthem some football field length away. I heard maybe 30 seconds of it. It seemed fun.
Of course I grew to then love LCD Soundsystem, and the fact that they were going to be calling it quits hurt. I chose to see Kid Cudi instead of going to be a part of what would end up being, until recently, LCD Soundsystem’s LAST shows.
Watching in my Freshman dorm was the best way to watch that final show because it represented both the way I reckoned with the bands music, and the way my Freshman year experience had been: Alone. I remember walking the streets of Orange, falling in love with Murphy’s brand of melancholy – from “All I Want” to “Home” to their Harry Nilsson cover of “Jump Into the Fire”, it was familiar and I related to it.
But “All My Friends” was the song. “Where are your friends tonight?” was the truest question I’d ever been asked. I was at a college where I didn’t know anyone, where everyone ELSE seemed to have their friends tonight, but I was seemingly alone. I would walk under the misty streetlights and listen to “All My Friends” on repeat. It was a song that meant something. It was a song that soundtracked all of my loneliest moments, making me reconsider whether I had fucked up my whole life. It was true that I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life, but I couldn’t help but realize that all of my friends in Arizona were living their lives and I was just in California in a cold, outdated dorm room watching LCD Soundsystem by myself on a Saturday night.
I contemplated moving back to Arizona. At least there that nagging question wouldn’t be as relevant because that’s WHERE my friends were.
But I didn’t. And I think James Murphy and co. had at least SOMETHING to do with that decision.
Then things started to happen. I made friends.
But more than make friends, I made friends who – whether because of me or by act of coincidence, liked LCD Soundsystem. And “All My Friends” was a staple of that. I can’t remember in my lifetime a band that so organically meant so much to so many people I’m currently friends with, with a song that we all identified with in a different way. Over the next five years, James Murphy, Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney, and many others soundtracked some of the HAPPIEST moments in my life. They were there when everyone was good and drunk at our friends Super Bowl parties, they were there on the stale drives to and from Los Angeles, they were there when my college radio co-events coordinator and I threw a DFA based dance party that miraculously 25 came to, and they were there on the jukebox at O’Haras Pub last Tuesday night. For whatever reason, in spite of my friends tastes in music, we all agreed on LCD Soundsystem.
And then they got back together. And it seemed too good to be true. LCD Soundsystem? Back from the dead? Suddenly I had a chance to redeem myself for having seen a mediocre rapper over one of the most influential bands in my life, and despite the awful pun, I would have to pinch myself and realize, This Is Happening.
Last night was LCD Soundsystem’s third concert since being back. I was there, in Pomona, watching James Murphy shut up and play the hits from 2005, 2007, 2010…
I stood by and watched, in awe, something I didn’t think I’d likely ever get to see, with five of my best friends who got it. The gravity of the show was never once lost on any of them, because we had all shared the same moments with LCD Soundsystem, sometimes together, sometimes apart, but the same moments nonetheless.
And the encore came. And “Dance Yrself Clean” didn’t disappoint, as six grown men jumped up and down and headbanged and shouted out the words in an attempt to tear Marxism to pieces. And then “Yr City’s A Sucker” forced its laid back grooves on us, and we maniacally laughed along to Murphy’s over the top “Ha Ha Ha Ha”’s. And then came “All My Friends”.
The song that had been, up until last night, an anthem for my loneliness, suddenly transformed in meaning. For years I had dreamed of hearing that song live. I had watched YouTube videos and re-winded the documentary to that song, and listened to every possible version of it that’s ever existed, all ad nauseam. I had assumed I would cry, or at the very least, feel numb.
But something else happened.
Six friends all put their arms around each other and jumped in rhythm to the relentless piano beat. And I felt nothing but unbridled, unapologetic and unrelenting joy. “Where are your friends tonight?” as a question was suddenly a brilliant affirmation of the experiences I had shared with my friends to LCD Soundsystem. Because, in spite of the biting realities and truths I hear in that song, I also know that I’ve jumped up and down and loudly sang along to “All My Friends” before, and I was happy in those moments.
And now drunk, and hoarse, and a little bit tired, I let the joy happen. The song, just like the band’s meaning to me, and just like my life over the five years since I watched them break up, had changed in meaning. And I loved it. After all, it was in front of me the whole time:
“You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again”
I guess it’s time to try and be with my friends again. I’m glad LCD Soundsystem are back to soundtrack that journey for me.