LCD Soundsystem: when something great is gone

On Feb. 5, electro-rockers LCD Soundsystem announced that they were calling it quits for good, following a final performance at Madison Square Garden in their hometown of New York City. Never heard of them? Doesn’t matter. Already over them? Don’t care. A sold-out Madison Square Garden, a career spanning nearly a decade, and three critically acclaimed albums have got thousands of people asking, “Why?” Coming from a group that has only continued to gain momentum since their arrival on the Brooklyn music scene in 2002, the decision has come as a shock to many. Hipsters, roll your eyes, but regardless of their growing popularity, mine will be aimed directly at the stage as LCD leaves the scene forever with a three-hour blow funeral performance. It has become apparent, however, that I am among a seemingly-privileged few ticket holders who will be attending the event – or it certainly seemed that way for a few panic-stricken minutes, anyway. Both the presale and the regular ticket sales proved catastrophe: pre-sale codes leaked entirely too early, ticket sale times were confused, and when the time came, ticket scalpers annihilated the competition, nabbing the vast majority of available tickets in a matter of seconds. Fully aware that a farewell show could rake in some serious cash, not five minutes after Ticketmaster had “sold out,” Stubhub had GA tickets listed at starting prices of $999.00 going up as high as $2,500 – enough to make me keel over in shock as I sat in my underwear Wednesday morning trying desperately to finagle a seat. This represented to me the unfortunate state that live music today has fallen into: no longer are the majority of live performances valued as experiences in and of themselves, for the connections established between musicians and fans; but, rather, they are valued insofar as they can be exploited and can reap a profit. Here we see the death of — in this author’s opinion — a brilliant band, and the very first thing that comes to mind is…resale. And I’m not talking about the Man here; I’m talking about the contemptible breed of swine collectively referred to as scalpers — regular people just like you or me, just a bit more computer savvy and devoid of any recognizable conscience.  The legal status of scalpers has been the subject of debate in recent years; however, much to my dismay, their status in the state of New York — the biggest entertainment market in the country, according to the New York Times — is currently legal. I couldn’t agree more with James Murphy, frontman of LCD, in terms of how he feels about the “legal” status of online ticket scalpers as articulated on the band’s website. “‘It’s legal,'” he writes, “is what people say when they don’t have ethics. The law is there to set the limit of what is punishable – that is, where the state needs to intervene –­­­ but we are supposed to have ethics, and that should be the primary guiding force in our actions you fuc—” Well, you get the idea. The point is that this shouldn’t have to be a legal matter; it’s a matter of valuing music for music or music for money, the latter of which seems to be the current trend. Contrary to this rather abysmal view of the system, I would not be able to compose this article so coherently were there not some light at the end of the tunnel. For in the retirement of LCD, I see something tremendously positive, something beautiful — I see musicians who still care about music as an art form. Part of being a brilliant artist is knowing when to say when, and LCD has shown us just that: that despite the temptation to carry on, to keep spewing out music for the sake of maintaining what could very easily be a successful commercial career, they have completed what they set out to do, and are putting down their instruments to let the world sit back and interpret what they’ve done for precisely what it is, for the better of the public or the worse.