You know, I didn’t really pay attention to LCD Soundsystem prior to “This is Happening”. I mean, I guess I was vaguely aware of them– I distinctly remember seeing the video for “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” on MTV about a hundred years ago (cue “remember when they played music on MTV?” joke) and thinking they sounded like a slightly irritating, completely ordinary dance-rock band. Years went by and every once in a while I’d see their name on some music blog extolling the virtues of “Sounds of Silver” or their energetic live performances. I didn’t really care either way.
It took me a little while to really catch on. When “This is Happening” came out and everybody was raving about it, saying it was the best record of the year, declaring it a forward-thinking piece of art, I was still disinterested. For some reason, I just had no desire to pick up the album and listen to it. It happens to me with a bunch of new artists lately– you have no idea how long it took me to listen to Janelle Monae, for instance, and when I finally did it was an epiphany and a half. In the case of “This is Happening”, all it took was a very good friend linking me to a Youtube video featuring “Dance Yrself Clean”. I was hooked.
The album itself is brilliant. A rhythmic, upbeat, danceable tour-de-force that’s pumped me up on my way to work more than once. A joyous, humorous, melodic journey that’s equal parts New Order and Fischerspooner that somehow also manages to be emotional and compelling. It ended up near the top of my own personal Best-of-2010 list. The record was so great, so addicting, it made me want to turn around and ask my peers “WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY TELL ME ABOUT THIS EARLIER?!”. Before realizing that, in fact, they had. I just wasn’t listening.
When I saw them live in a mid-sized but completely sold-out venue in Palermo, it’s safe to say they defied any expectations I had. I didn’t know how their music would translate to a live setting or how the mostly jaded Argentine scenester crowd would react to their music. What I got was about two hours of what felt very much like a punk rock band playing– in the intensity of the sound, the conviction in which the band soldiered through all the songs, the reaction of the rowdy crowd. Everything added up to one of the most visceral, intense shows I’ve ever been to. I came in a fan of “This is Happening”, I left a total LCD Soundsystem convert.
I was pretty up close to the stage during the first– oh, two minutes of the show, after which I was forced to make my way to the back by my need to protect my camera from the pushing and shoving of the insane crowd. After I finally made it to a point where I was comfortable enough to hold a camera in my hands and still get a good view of the band (which, let’s face it, is never really a problem for a guy of my height), I was faced with another problem: a strange girl vigorously grinding her butt against my crotch.
Seriously. This girl was aggressively pressing her rear against my crotch area, for the duration of three or four songs, making me feel… well, conflicted.
Now, listen, I’m a straight guy. I love women and I love the act of sex. However, I also consider myself a deeply respectful and, y’know, why not, chivalrous guy. When I so much as brush up against a woman’s privates in a crowded Subway train, my immediate gut reaction is to apologize vehemently– maybe to a fault. Fact of the matter is, I hate feeling like I’m taking advantage of a woman, however accidental it may be. But was this butt-grinding accidental?
Here’s the evidence: There was ample dancing room in front of her. In my awkward attempts to move away from her contorting behind, I could see she had a good three feet of empty space in front of her. She was obviously aware that she was pressing up against someone. And let me tell you, as a virile 23 year old, after three our four songs of some girl (who, from what I can tell is pretty attractive) pressing her butt against your privates, there’s… you know, a certain physiological reaction. A stiffness, if you will. And there’s absolutely no way she’s not noticing it, it’s RIGHT THERE.
I should just… what, enjoy the ride? Maybe this is her simultaneously-direct-and-not-at-all-direct way of telling me she’s interested. But wait, she hasn’t even gotten a good look at me. OH SHIT, MAYBE SHE THINKS I’M SOMEONE ELSE?! There’s a guy right next to her, probably her boyfriend, maybe she’s so far gone she thinks he’s the one behind her and not me?! Holy shit and what’s gonna happen when she realizes her mistake? Is he gonna try to kick my ass? Could I take this guy? I could probably take this guy. But do I want to get in a fight? I have my camera with me and I haven’t slept in 24 hours. Is this happening? Am I gonna get in a fight with some jackass ‘cuz his girlfriend’s too high to discern who’s crotch she’s using as a scratching pole in a concert? What if she freaks out and start screaming?! What if everybody around turns around and thinks I’m a crowd rapist?! WHAT IF THE BAND STOPS PLAYING AND SINGLES ME OUT AND GOES INTO AN IMPROVISED JAM ABOUT ME BEING A CROWD RA–
and then, thankfully, some drunken bozo pushes his way from behind me, through the crowd, effectively pushing this girl away from me. And a wave of relief comes washing over me. I’m free.
… And then I get a little sad.