“This is real,” a man behind me at Webster Hall rhapsodized, gently laying his arms across the shoulders of his friends on either side. “This is happening.” It was LCD Soundsystem‘s first reunion show for their upcoming tour and festival circuit this summer, and the first time the dance-punk icons — James Murphy, Nancy Whang, Gavin Russom, Pat Mahoney, Tyler Pope, and occasional member Matt Thornley — were performing together in five years. The smell of bonhomie, humidity, and weed hung heavy in the air; and, since it was Easter Sunday evening, so did the resurrection metaphors.
“We bought a keyboard controller that’s called the Demon, and let me tell you, it’s very expensive,” Murphy said, referring to technical difficulties earlier in the evening when the band attempted to launch into the blippy, baleful This Is Happening epic “I Can Change.” Grinning at the irony of the situation, he continued, “Let me tell you also, it is a demon: because when people were here, it decided to f**k our souls.”
Not even the modular synthesizers’ moody temperament could temper the evening’s overall mood of incredulous jubilation. Any fans disillusioned with the band’s reunion — which Murphy addressed in a long letter earlier this year, explaining why they decided to get back together — apparently elected to stay home for the evening. Clusters of people started singing along to songs before they had even begun (pre-encore closer “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”), while others blissfully slam-danced to the twitching cowbells of Sound of Silver‘s sneering stand-off “Us V Them” from 2007 and LCD Soundsystem‘s 2005 sticky noise-funk freakout “Movement.” This wasn’t the first time that LCD have announced shows at Webster Hall a few days before they actually happen: In 2010, Murphy and Co. debuted unheard songs from their then-upcoming third album at a surprise set. This time, there was no such luck. As far as we know, the only new material LCD has already finished is last year’s pleasant holiday dirge “Christmas Will Break Your Heart.”
Murphy is nothing if not self-aware, and throughout the evening he joked about these reunion shows that were, in fact, more of rehearsal shows. (The venue marquee read “TEST IN PROGRESS, PLEASE STAND BY.”) “We weren’t going to play theses songs, but then there was so much love in the room — thank you guys,” he said after coming back onstage for the encore, cutting himself off as he parodied the age-old concert routine. At times an almost imperceptible feeling of disingenuousness circulated underneath it all, at least for anyone who ached along with the crying boy at the very end of Shut Up and Play the Hits. Just five years later they’re back in their hometown, singing their sad, sweet, self-conscious songs. But it was hard not to get swept away in the piano propulsions of set closer “All My Friends,” or sing extra loud to the most important line of the whole show, and this moment in LCD’s career: “And to tell the truth / Oh, this could be the last time.”
Correction: A previous edition of this article misstated that Juan MacLean and Tim Sweeney were in LCD Soundsystem. They are not, nor have they ever been.