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Is LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy Having Fun?

The band announced a third year of "residency" performances exclusive to American Express cardholders.

(Hell Gate)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! For the third year running, LCD Soundsystem has announced a December "residency" at venues throughout  the city, organized by the concert behemoth Bowery Presents. Whereas the band's previous residencies in 2021 and 2022 took place only at Bowery Presents's Williamsburg venue Brooklyn Steel, this year, during the "Tri Boro Tour," the band will also play shows at Terminal 5 in Manhattan and Knockdown Center in Queens.  

Have an American Express credit card and feel icky about "dancing yrself clean" in the company of the non-Amex-holding public? You're in luck. Bowery Presents, which is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, is a "proud partner" of American Express (you might be wondering right now, what does it mean for one giant corporation to be a "proud partner" of another?), and as was the case in previous residencies, one night at each venue on the "Tri Boro Tour" will be available exclusively to American Express cardholders. Finally, a concert experience limited to the intimate fraternity of people who use the same credit card.

If you haven't been keeping up with LCD Soundsystem, one of the defining acts of the 2000s Williamsburg indie scene, the last you might have heard of them was when the band made the creative decision to give their project a dignified end in 2011. But they then returned in 2017 with the album "American Dream." If you have been keeping up with them, you might wonder, like us, how the band went from making a respectful exit to its current status of seemingly aimless festival touring, Amex exclusive concerts (One redditor said that a ticket to one of last year's residency ran them about $95 dollars after fees, which seems stiff, for the same show over and over again), and brainstorming new types of modular music festivals with AEG. LCD Soundsystem's lead frontman James Murphy even recently DJ'd a Bored Ape Yacht Club party (does Murphy own an Ape? Did he? Reach out to us and let us know) and now owns a wine bar

If the idea of a "residency" seems a little Vegas to you, here's the thing: COVID has changed touring, perhaps forever. Whereas musicians used to (under immense financial pressure, it should be said) try their best to power through illness on tour, like a lot of workers, a positive COVID test now threatens to take them out of the game. But musicians can't work a stage remotely. And because of streaming, touring makes up a bigger part of musicians' livelihoods than ever, and missed dates are devastatingly costly. The economics of tour planning have changed, and a "residency" by a large local act like LCD Soundsystem is a marginally more reliable way to fill up fall and winter dates: the booking agency also owns most of high-capacity venues in the city, it takes potentially massive travel costs out of the equation, and stand-ins for sick musicians are easy to find in the city, especially if you're as well connected as LCD Soundsystem is.

As for James Murphy, people don't care about selling out anymore, and I think he's trying to test the limits of that belief by creating his biggest work yet, a generational piece of performance art about selling out in which AEG, BP, BAYC, and Amex are but unwitting players. Banksy who? LCD Soundsystem denied our request to talk, obviously not wanting to spill the beans. In fact, Hell Gate writer-editors have been attempting, unsuccessfully, to discuss Murphy’s business practices since his Bored Ape Yacht Club show. James Murphy, are you happy? Let us know.

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