Five days after finishing college, I boarded a train for New York City with about $200 bucks in graduation cash, no job, no agenda and no obligations. I wasn’t looking for a future, I just wanted an undetermined period of existential escape. I was naively looking to replicate Holden Caulfield’s booze-and-sex-filled journey after being expelled from Pencey Prep.
In reality, I slept on a couch in Brooklyn and just rode the subway a lot. I went record shopping on Bleecker Street. I rented a cruiser bike for $12 dollars and lapped it around Central Park a few times. I ate pizza and turkey sandwiches and drank lots of lukewarm drip coffee. I had no revelations or epiphanies, and the money I had hoped to stretch close to a week lasted just over two days.
On Friday of that week, I bought a scalped ticket to see LCD Soundsystem at Terminal 5. What would go on to be the band’s final studio album, “This Is Happening,” had come out three days prior and James Murphy and co. were commemorating it with a four-night stand at the large-scale Hell’s Kitchen venue. For the duration of my time in the city, “This Is Happening” was the soundtrack. It was everywhere. I heard the rumble of the hypnotic bass line of “Dance Yrself Clean” from the apartment below where I slept. I saw grainy photos and mobile videos on Facebook from the first night’s show. Murphy was one of the iconic New York musicians of the modern era, and I happened to be wandering his city as his band was entering a new stratosphere of success.
The show, expectedly, was transcendent. It was alive and thumping and charging forward from first note. When Murphy sang “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down,” he was joined by all 3,000 of the show’s attendees. They sang it with palpable ownership. They treated it like an anthem. Because it was. Because Murphy rode the L train with them, because he made music that was equal parts progressive and steeped in the tradition of those that had come before him. Because, like them, all he wanted to be was the front man of a really great New York band. And now he was.
Eleven months later, LCD played its final show at Madison Square Garden. It’s now the subject of a forthcoming documentary, “Shut Up And Play The Hits.” The film’s trailer (below) made rounds on the Internet late yesterday afternoon. Watching the video just makes the absence of LCD that much more apparent. They should not have gone so soon, at least not before another two or three (or four) records. But they did, and it’s over. And now it’s time for another regular guy who wants to be a rock star get up and go be one. And to create transcendent musical moments on a New York City Friday night. Here’s hoping we’re there when the moment happens.