LCD Soundsystem Get Everyone To Dance On Their Grave At Madison Square Garden


I remember the first time I spotted LCD Soundsystem’s lead singer and creator James Murphy on the L train. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were the only two people in the car, besides a street performer playing a saxophone for change. I sat there only a few feet away from both of them, studying James as he leaned against the door with his headphones on. The performance was one I will never forget. He played that thing with blood sweat and tears, jumping around flailing his legs, while at the same time hitting some of the worst possible notes he could or could not think of. James just stood there nonplussed, as if the man wasn’t even there before exiting the train on 1st Avenue. Though we never made eye contact, I am pretty sure we both shared a moment of random perplexity that made us think to ourselves “Only in New York City” which is perhaps one of the many reasons we love this place so much.

Nearly 5 years later, I found myself standing in a line outside of Mercury Lounge amongst 500+ people for hours anxious to get general admission tickets to what would be the last LCD Soundsystem show ever. The company of friends was the only thing keeping me from thinking about standing there in 14 degree weather risking hypothermia, and the fact that I woke up at 7am to go stand on a line in the first place. A month later, as we walked into Madison Square Garden, my friends and I sighed the words of relief “totally worth it”… When we made it to the floor, we just stood there for a minute and spun our heads around in amazement. We watched hundreds upon hundreds of people dance there asses off, all in unison bearing ear to ear grins. Everyone was clad in black and white, as this was a “funeral” for the band of sorts, but no way did it feel like one. We all knew we were part of something huge. I don’t mean to gush, but you just had to be there.

The show started on a somber note, playing the first bars of 10cc’s “Not In Love”, a track I always include on CD mixes for friends, though I am sure it went unnoticed to most of the audience. The first set included “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “All My Friends”, and “Tired” with a snippet of 70’s progressive rock band Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise”, a song I have known since my toddler years. It was a joyful ending as my friends and I danced arm in arm, and great predecessor to the following 2 and a half hours the show still had.

The second set started with a track they made for a Nike ad called “45:33”, which most perceived was performed as a joke, but mostly so Murphy could take a break. The tune previews clips of songs that later became the track list to their sophomore studio release “Sound Of Silver”. Some of the special guest who joined them onstage include Reggie Watts, and DFA affiliates The Juan Maclean and Shit Robot who performed in a rocket ship and a pyramid, putting to rest the rumors that Daft Punk would be making an appearance. Coming into the third set saw Arcade Fire approach the stage to back vocals for “North American Scum”, a ground-shaking performance of “Movement”, the very first song I ever heard by them, and “Home” which I am sure left a cry ball in everyones throat.

But the real tear jerker, of course, was “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”, and it was so for so many reasons. As James announced that he was about to sing his last song ever, the audience booed, prompting him to ask not for boos but for cheers, and cheers he got, for about 5 minutes in fact. He thanked his family, fans, friends, and band mates with tears in his eyes, and started the song, adding profoundly long pauses in between lines. During the songs ending, white balloons fell from the ceiling, and James bowed, sealing the deal on one of the best live performances I have ever seen in my entire life, and the end of LCD Soundsystem.

I still haven’t made eye contact with James, and I probably never will for that matter, but I feel like we relived that moment from 5 years ago. There was no train, no crazy saxophone player, just a lot of love, a lot of energy and an amazing perfromance. Thank you LCD Soundsystem for the music, for the memories, and for sharing a fondness for New York City that will never die…

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The Strokes @ Madison Square Garden, NYC – April 1, 2011

Photo by the lovely Chelsea Franklin


Like fish to a bait, thousands of Strokes fans piled into New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Friday night. This has been nearly five years too long since the guys took the stage together in the Big Apple.

Openers The Grogs and Devendra Banhart (Who went on way too early), barely gained any attention. Elvis Costello, also known as our “April Fools,” joke, came out and played about three songs as a surprise opener as well. No one really seemed to care unless he was about to take off a mask and reveal he was Julian Casablancas.

We were there to see The Strokes.

A band that brought Rock and Roll alive for many of us in the crowd, you could look around and see the ripped jeans, converse sneakers and unkempt, but perfectly placed hair. It was easy to believe that everything was back in place. Just how we left it five years ago. It was interesting that the band was playing a stadium in NYC, the biggest headlining show that they have ever done in the city. Being about my 6th Strokes show in NYC, I wasn’t sure how they would carry out a big, sold out venue. The answer is nothing more than “brilliant.”

Cue the 9:30 curtain call and on walks the five familar faces. The crowd gave them one of the biggest welcomes I’ve ever seen and The Strokes seemed to be more than thankful. They wasted no time before launching into “Is This It,” a clever first song. Right away we knew every word, so much that Julian commented on it.

The chemistry of the band seemed to be back. They were tight, and not sloppy by any means, even when Casablancas messed up on a couple of lines. Hey, it happens. If you didn’t tell me they were on a hiatus, I would have thought they were playing together every night for the past year together. It was that great. Bands rarely play so perfectly, then again, no band is The Strokes.

From “Reptilia,” to “Under Cover of Darkness, the band delivered. Mixing classics like “Last Nite,” seemed to be flawless amongst the new tracks on Angles, (BMG) which were even better live than anticipated. Casablancas was chatty that night making comments and talking to the band. They seem to be healing with each other and that makes an arena of 25,000 happy Strokes fans. Highlights of the nights included “New York City Cops,” “Life is Simple in the Moonlight,” and “What Ever Happened?,” but honestly, EVERY song was a highlight

Elvis Costello appeared onstage in the midst of “Taken for a Fool,” which seemed to be magical for some or killed it for others. It takes a lot to impress Strokes fans. A lot.

Nick Valensi’s and Albert Hammond Jr.’s guitars intertwined with every single strum and pluck as they held the songs together. Nikolai Fraiture’s bass was smooth and emphasized every note perfectly. Fab Moretti provided brillian percussion bringing up the backbone of the band, even with the occasional use of the drum machine. Casablancas’ voice was dead on with every note and the crowd was right there with him. Jumping into the audience pit a few times, he weaved his way through the crowd and never stopped for a minute. This is always something amazing about the band. They don’t make the fans feel like outsiders, but part of what’s going on.

Climbing on speakers and upper levels, Casablancas was determined to get your attention at any cost. What was that line that Jason Lee said in “Almost Famous”? …”You know what I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for the guy who isn’t getting off and I MAKE him get off.” This my friends is Julian Casablancas. A man who will bend over backwards to make sure you are having a good time and look cool as hell doing it.

A whopping hour and a half later and a short encore, the band closed with “Take It or Leave It.” Just how we remembered it. Ful of energy, an explosion of sound, a jump in the crowd and smooth but raw vocals. As the band left the stage for the night, you could see 25,000 smiling faces.

The Strokes are back.

SETLIST
1.Is This It
2.Reptilia
3.Under Cover of Darkness
4.Hard To Explain
5.Last Nite
6.Life Is Simple in the Moonlight
7.Juicebox
8.Someday
9.You’re So Right
10.Under Control
11.You Only Live Once
12.New York City Cops
13.Games
14.What Ever Happened?
15.Taken for a Fool (with Elvis Costello)
Encore:
16.Ask Me Anything
17.The Modern Age
18.Gratisfaction
19.I Can’t Win
20.Take It Or Leave It

VIDEOS

Concert Photos of CMJ 2010

For a New Yorker such as myself who is deeply into modern music and the direction its headed, there simply is no time greater in the year then CMJ. Last year was my first taste of the five day long Music/Film festival and despite photographing musicians for a full year prior to the festival, never have I experienced such respect, access, and simple gratefulness from musicians for coming out and seeing them perform. What also made this an exciting time was interacting with fellow music fans from all over the world! 2010’s CMJ has ended and though it is sad to imagine such an amazing event being over I was lucky to capture some amazing moments during the concerts of the festival.

For me the festival started on Tuesday (the 19th) where I headed to Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not only did I get to photograph a Kevin Devine headlining gig (who in my opinion is one of the most talented musicians you can find) but since it was CMJ the support list was varied and filled with musicians I’ve never heard of. This gave me the privilege to photograph artists such as:

Oh Land. A Danish electro/pop duo.

Death On Two Wheels. A Georgian hard rock outfit which wears confidence on their sleeves.

River City Extension. An orchestral indie band who make sure their listeners are fully engulfed into their tunes.

Miniature Tigers. Festival favorites who stressed the importance of singing along to their songs.

and of course our hometown favorite, Kevin Devine.

The following day featured me and my girlfriend venturing to Madison Square Garden for a highly anticipated show. Indie heroes Phoenix were to grace the stage to celebrate their widely received album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. To everyones surprise old friends of theirs took the stage with them to everyones delight.

WAVVES kept everyones attention afloat with their infectious garage energy.

Dirty Projectors kept the momentum up with an Arcade Fire esque stage presence.

Phoenix and Daft Punk took the entire arena by surprise!

The excitement of CMJ just ran more rampant within me as a band I have been in love with all year finally made their way to the city. Two Door Cinema Club is the most recent export from Northern Ireland, a country which is considered a personal mecca to me in terms of music. Their Webster Hall gig totally sold out quickly and impressed everyone who attended, and I dare say even amaze also.

Grouplove redefined the word enthusiasm as they played through their set. Its always great to see a band thats truly thankful to be there.

Penguin Prison smoothed the crowd with their jazz toned vocals. Dancing was a must as this band made the stage their own.

"Holy shit New York! I can feel the fucking ground shaking from here from all your dancing!" shouted Alex Trimble as the band went into their hit single "Undercover Martyn"

The exhaustion of CMJ was beginning to seep in as I headed to my final gig of the festival. It also felt fitting having it take place in Music Hall of Williamsburg again. What kept me excited was seeing British newcomers Everything Everything. Their debut album Man Alive is certainly one of the most addictive releases of 2010 so far and highly recommended.

Porcelain Raft

Dominant Legs

Mr.Johnny Flynn definitely wins the award for making the most women swoon during CMJ. His honest and well constructed songs are also a firm plus.

Chapel Club aimed to pave the way for British indie bands in New York and surprisingly enough I'd say they were successful in stirring interest.

I clearly wasn't the only concert goer who was tired from the weeks activities, but the energy and stage presence of Everything Everything made us all forget for 30 minutes how tired we were.

Blood Red Shoes filled the room with smoke and ended the night with an explosive set that no one saw coming (or at least being as wicked as it was!)

And that is my recount of CMJ 2010. This has been my second year of taking part of the festival and it truly is a privilege not only to see these acts perform but to interact with these musicians and help spread the word about them. For more photos be sure to go here to enjoy a full gallery of each show I covered.

Get “Love like a Sunset Part III” mp3 For Showing Phoenix Your Love

The hippest and coolest French band is taking over New York City’s Madison Square Garden on October 20th, proving to us that immense success can happen to good people too. As the show time approaches, Phoenix are now inviting EVERYONE (who has a Twitter account) to spread the message as well.

By registering HERE, you can re-tweet about the show, which will also mark the MSG debut of Dirty Projectors, and in return, you will get a free download of  “Love Like A Sunset Part III” as the band unveiled, in the advent of this concert, that “Love Like A Sunset” is actually a trilogy, from their fourth LP Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

You can listen to this exclusive dance track below:

(via Some Kind of Awesome)

So do your bit for Phoenix and they will reward you accordingly!