What Was James Murphy Chewing On?
And more notes on LCD Soundsystem, Re:SET, Voyeur, and Rusty Santos.
Greenroom Catastrophe is a monthly column that serves as an intro to the phenomenology of New York music. Join the coincidental misadventures of a lifer, Dale W Eisinger, as he searches for new noise through scene reports, reminiscences, and musings on the state of New York music. Desperate for a thrill.
The sky was blood red behind a huge banner reading, "WELCOME TO HELL" in Times Square. Standing in sneakers felt like creeping trench foot. It was dangerous to breathe. But what else are you going to do? Go to the party. “Crisis” is a perpetual spasm at the juncture of existence — its inflection simply differs. Have you heard of these moths in 1800s newly industrialized England? There was so much soot it blackened the trees. The Peppered Moth’s genetics immediately changed their color to match the soot, just so they could more easily chill all day. That’s the attitude to adopt. Become the Peppered Moth.
LCD's Profound System
I heard about this great Re:SET thing from my buddy Tony. It's a little traveling festival that knew exactly how to book a gig. Getting off the train in Forest Hills is like stepping back in time, wandering around vast ivy-covered castle until suddenly, you’ve got a seltzer in your hand and Idles is shredding on stage. Blame the summer hours, but it did feel a little weird seeing Jamie XX in daylight.
I was down in the photo pit for the first few LCD songs. I turned away for one second, and when I looked back, James was chewing on something. I must have asked ten photographers what he had taken a bite of, but not a single one had any idea what I was talking about. To be fair, we were basically standing inside the subwoofers. But it’s almost like they aren’t even looking at the images they’re making. If anyone saw what James Murphy was eating at the beginning of the LCD Soundsystem show at Forest Hills, please tell me.
I watched the rest of the show from the top row. A guy named Badge kept handing us joints, over and over and over and never wanted them back. Maybe there was just a lot of attention drawn to the bass because they kept passing the guitar around, including to one of the dudes from Idles, but LCD sounded almost completely motorik that night, especially on “You Wanted a Hit” and the phenomenal cover of “No Love Lost.” I feel entirely grateful for this band. Who has done this kind of music as well as LCD since they first called it quits? They are singular. It was entirely necessary they reunite, because the world is worse without them. (Thank you thank you, Alex.)
The Life (of The Party (Promoter))
My default read on any music I didn’t hear about from my friends is cynicism, but I swear I’m rooting for everyone. Which is why, when I saw a promoted story post on Instagram for The Life performing at Mercury Lounge, I thought, “Only serious people buy promoted story posts on Instagram.” So I started a Ticketmaster account to get in. I was on the F train from Brooklyn and thought, “I wonder who on this train is going to see The Life at Mercury Lounge…”
It turned out just me, but that’s how these exclusive kinds of things happen. As I tore through a thicket of waiting Doordash-eBikers outside the McDonalds on Delancey, I thought, “Fuck yeah, man, New York City, we’re doing it.” Then I walked past that place called PRIVILEGE and heard a couple in matching Air Force 1s discussing going to Beauty and Essex. At Mercury Lounge, it took me a full three minutes to find the tickets without getting the Ticketmaster app.
The opening band was called "Paris Spleen" a couple months ago when we played with them at Baby’s. Now they’re called "Voyeur." But it doesn’t matter what they’re called because everyone knows how much Joe, Max, Sharleen, and Jake shred. They’ve got an SST Sonic Youth and Jonathan Richman thing happening, with a jaded shade that encapsulates New York in 2023. When Jake took a huge breath and his eyes went into soft focus and he screamed, “New York City, you can suck my dick!”
I felt it not as a pejorative to the city as such, but to the dumbass politics that limit the potential of the city. It was believable because this music is both deeply spiritual and ponderously thoughtful. “I’ve been watching a lot of Nirvana lately,” Max told me before the gig, “so I’ve been doing this triplet fill thing.” Sure enough, Max’s triplets got promiscuous around the kit, without losing any of the power that Grohl himself could add. Joe’s bass could carve a rut through The Badlands. And I would see this band any day of the week just to see what wig Sharleen chooses. One of the most compelling rock bands I’ve seen in some time.
When The Life came out, he told us they were having an afterparty, but wouldn’t reveal where until the end. Sometimes at the end of the songs these instrumental sections hit so fucking hard, man. We now know the answer to the question: What if Third Eye Blind had a podcast? It was kind of disappointing when he took off his leather jacket for the last couple songs but rest assured it’s not grafted to his skin. We heard someone say to his friend before the show, "What if we’re, like, at that first The Strokes show?” Someone leaned over and told me the guy who said that “literally just wants to get laid.”
I saw Joe again and he reminded me the venue we were standing in would be gone within the month. I felt grateful to be there, standing in a mist of sweat and smoke. It was such a joy to see Sediment Club back at their best, a band who dares you to groove. Is it safe to put the name of the venue on the internet yet? God bless them. Another storied performance space and its staff evaporates into the ethereal DIY mythos. This one feels like a cyberpunk fever dream.
Best Of All Time
I met Rusty Santos when he was making hard techno. He had just come back to NYC after a time in Chicago working with the juke and footwork legends there. But he’d already had a huge hand in the New Weird America scene happening in NYC. Once he told me they used to get into post offices at night and throw pirate Animal Collective/Gang Gang Dance/Black Dice shows at their most unpredictable.
Even if you’re not familiar with his name, you love his work–he produced Sung Tongs and worked on some of the best records of the century, most notably to me the singular Dysnomia by Dawn of Midi. His new solo record New Wave in California takes his unparalleled ear for the most fucked-up and beautiful sounds, while giving himself the space to speak his mind. Three tracks with Bedroom, one each with Jackie Mendoza and Psychic Twin, and an unbelievable lazy river of a track with old friend Panda Bear. “I know what it’s like to be a freak for life,” ends the first track on the record. I’m with you, Rusty.