An Open Letter to James Murphy of LCD SOUNDSYSTEM on the Subject of His Recent DJ Gig

Dear James,

Thanks for coming to Vancouver! Really. It was nice to see your face. I was really looking forward to checking out your DJ set at Celebrities, particularly since most musicians can’t DJ for shit, and folks end up paying $40 to for deep cuts pulled from someone else’s MacBook. But you, nah, you know music. You’ve DJ’d before, too so I was curious about what you’d come up with. So, too, was the other actual DJ I brought with me to your set (Shirley House‘s DJ Natural State) who was in visiting from New York City. We thought you’d probably pull out some great choons.

And you did – for a Sunday afternoon outdoor Brooklyn barbecue. Or any other time, really. The songs were great. Just not for a dance club on Davie St at 1am on an early Friday morning. Sure you gave us lots to shuffle to, but wasn’t it obvious that we all wanted to lose our shit just a bit more? Some of us came to dance, not to do the two-step.

James Murphy, photo by Mikala Folb

Now, I get that it’s your set to do whatever you like, but I have questions:

I totally dig that you were reaching deep into your bags of actual vinyl. I liked some of the dark house and disco boogie that you brought along. But where were the big sounds? Where was the joy or the anthems? Or the groovers and the rump-shakers? Did you even look at how the crowd was reacting? Couldn’t you see that we were all gamely bopping instead of dancing ourselves clean? Yeah okay, maybe we wanted a hit and that’s not what you do…but….

…if you couldn’t give the people what they want, couldn’t you at least interact with them more? ¬†Shit, one kid named Zane was dying to give you his CD, and another tweentie-year-old we met practically exploded with “OMG HE IS SUCH A LEGENNNNNNND” before you came on stage. The weird mix of kids and 30-something disposable incomes were gagging for it. So why did you just lamely fist bump a few people? A few weeks earlier in the same venue, DJ Roni Size was up in front of his decks during a long edit, shaking hands, and handing out shots to folks, grinning. Why did the most exciting thing that happened (you dancing, smiling and boogieing to the ’80s gay classic “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, played by the DJ before you) happen before your own set?

AND WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GODS DID YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR SET PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THE LIGGERS BEHIND YOU HANDING YOU DRINKS OR THAT DRUNK GIRL, INSTEAD FOCUSING YOUR ATTENTION ON THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU? Would you get up on stage for a live music gig and turn your back on the audience to chat to the guitar tech instead? No, no you would not.

I mean, I get that you’re a big deal. I get that it’s fun for you to be surrounded by a people bringing you things (“Why yes,” you seemed to nod at times, “yes, that’s a much better bubbly.”) I get that it was entertaining (for you) when said drunk girl talked to you repeatedly throughout your set (oh for the love of fuck, girlie, we’re not there to see you, or you talking to the DJ, please just fuck off). Or that it was HILARIOUS (for you) when she decided to crowdsurf from the back of the room towards the front, really terribly, and you laughed your arse off, pointing, when she nearly went face-first down to the floor.

I get that, like, days earlier, LCD Soundsystem had announced its new album and there were probably 18,000 other cities and 18,000 other people who were dying for your attention. But you agreed to this. I also get that “celebrity” DJ sets are mostly just a chance for fans to pay money to spend time with you in a smaller room and it’s par for the course that they’re surrounded by “mates.” But they don’t have to be. These sets should be better. More.

To be honest, I expected more from you. And I just wanted you to know that.

Backstagerider \m/

James Murphy, photo by Mikala FolbJames Murphy, photo by Mikala Folb

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