Coachella is Terrible (and other thoughts on the LCD Soundsystem reunion)

One of my favorite bands is getting back together and it’s making me kinda sad.

When bf read me the 2016 Coachella lineup the other day I could have sworn it was a hoax. After all, the parody Coachella poster is a worthy joke and the name LCD Soundsystem hasn’t appeared at the top of any bill since 2011.

Photo by Will Deitz for Pitchfork

And yet, there they were.

Fear not, for the thinkpieces about LCD Soundsystem’s not-so-surprising surprise reunion are already abundant. Some old dude wrote about how James Murphy’s New York was never authentically his or some dumb ish (it’s a well-written piece but it’s oozing pretension onto my shoes). Pitchfork threw out an objectively better article that sought to understand the politics and purpose of the reunion while also addressing its many critics and predicting its future.

The third part of the article was the saddest, I think. I quote:

That’s why they’re going to go over strong at Coachella, despite the hesitation of critics who think indie legacy = baaaad in 2016. Imagine the drugged-out teens, ready to cry it out in the arms of their besties, a new collection of euphoric LCD Soundsystem experiences manifested for people to tell their friends and kids about. From there, they’ll tour again, and release a new record before the end of the year. There are no reasons to think it won’t go well.

For a band that means as much to me (and others) as LCD Soundsystem to cash in on the festival economy, dump a predictable postmortem album on our heads, and embark on what will likely be a traditional festival circuit tour (with a handful of ~exclusive~ club shows in Brooklyn or some shit, I’m sure) is disheartening, regardless of whether or not it will “go well.” One can’t take it personally of course, because like the article’s author Jeremy Gordon says, who doesn’t want to play music with his friends and make a fuckton of money for doing so? And although plenty of horrible people at Coachella won’t think much of it, LCD’s first show in 5 years will indeed make many of their fans very happy.

This fan will probably need a little more time to digest it, though.

Do I think that the bands who reunite after a long hiatus just to make bank off a couple headlining sets are evil? Not necessarily. Do I resent this trend? I mean yeah, what real fan wouldn’t? I feel like I’m contradicting myself here, because I’ve wished for an LCD reunion in the past, but now that it’s real I can’t help but feel a little icky about it- blame the Coachella effect, I guess. Obviously it makes me really happy that I might get the chance to see LCD Soundsystem live in my lifetime. In fact, if they play ACL I’ll be there- and by be there, I mean show up at 11am and straight camp.

But it won’t be the same.

I understand that I am highly crotchety about festivals. I am the dad outside of a Forever 21. I am that old white guy who bitches about how much better things were in the ‘70’s. I unironically tell people here to move back to Dallas (jk, things haven’t gotten that dire yet). But, assuming LCD does play ACL and I do go and see them there (a highly likely scenario, for better or worse), looking up at one of my all-time favorite bands and seeing a group of people brought together and to Austin by the goal of turning mad profit above all will feel at least moderately shitty. I want to think that James Murphy’s treatise on the reasoning behind the reunion (and its nod to cynical fucks like me) is legit, but I can’t be sure. Not yet. Right now, I just see myself sulking for a minute.

And also actively contributing to the bringing-broken-up-bands-back-from-the-dead-in-the-name-of-capitalism complex, like a fuckin’ sheep.

But what else can I do? I remember playing “Someone Great” on repeat in high school, its calculated, perky monotony soundtracking a part of my life that seemed never-ending at the time. The first time bf and I exchanged the l-word  happened as “All My Friends” was coming to its perfect, crashing end. “Sound of Silver” and “Dance Yrself Clean” have been lovingly played at just about every one of our kickbacks this year. Today it is highly likely that I’ll blast the live version of “you can’t hide / shame on you” on my way to work, because that song is a fucking jam. I’m listening to “I Can Change” as I write this, letting dance music’s favorite sadboy usher in another semester in which I pledge to do all sorts of shit I will almost certainly never get around to (But I can change! Right?).

LCD Soundsystem broke up because, although the band was at the height of its popularity, its members believed that this phase in their lives had run its course. The fact that I never caught an LCD show is a bit of a bummer, sure, but it’s impossible not to respect the rationale behind the band’s dissolution. There’s no messy feud, half-assed attempt to carry on without a pivotal member, or slow burnout of subpar album after subpar album- just a flawless musical legacy and happy memories galore.

With such a neat, amicable ending in the rearview mirror, it’s easy to question the motives behind LCD’s reunion and I think you can forgive me for doing so. I still love the band and likely won’t ever stop- and like I said, if they play in my city I’ll be there in a heartbeat. But as someone with so much love- genuine, honest, love for this band- I’m approaching LCD Soundsystem’s return with caution.


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