A guest post from WELO friend and Dance Panda, robbytherobot:
Do a quick poll of the people around you. Name the best dance band of this decade. If they said anything other than LCD Soundsystem, punch them soundly in the mouth. Ok, not literally, but metaphorically at least. I would wager if they answered with any other band, they never had the privilege of seeing LCD perform live. I was lucky enough to see them five times, including their last two shows of all time.
When lead singer James Murphy announced “The Long Goodbye”, he asked those of us attending to wear black and white. I immediately thought of the music video (directed by friend of the band, Spike Jonze) for Drunk Girls, off of last year’s This Is Happening, maybe you can see why:
And thus The Dance Pandas were born. Thanks to dickhead scalpers 4 additional shows were added at Terminal 5. Serendipity was on my side and I copped tickets to the final T5 show and the Madison Square Garden show. I, robbytherobot, recruited my best friend, garythehuman, our mission was clear. Get to NYC, go to both shows dressed as the creepy pandas from the video, and dance rselves clean. If that had been all that had happened, I would have been thrilled. But the pandas were destined for more.
When we arrived at Terminal 5 last thursday, we expected at least a few others in costume, maybe even the same costumes we had chosen, it seemed an obvious choice. Not only were we the only pandas, we were the only ones in costume! Peacoats and dress shirts as far as the eye could see. The minute we arrived I made a bee-line for the merch table, and the met the first of many happy coincidences. I wanted at least three posters, one each for the Pandas, and one for our dear friends and Panda Handlers, Matt and Amy, who made the whole trip with us. GUESS WHAT? Three posters left from the entire week of shows at T5. Two were the display models on the wall. I’ll take those, thankyouverymuch.
Drunk Girls is the second song they play, we should probably crowdsurf:
Dance. Dance. Dance. Beer. Dance. *Sob*
After a three hour set including a Harry Nilsson cover, guest appearances by Reggie Watts, Shit Robot, and Juan Maclean, we were ecstatic for the MSG show and elated that we had made it to NYC. What better way to celebrate than hitting White Castle?
Our bellies filled and feeling all warm and fuzzy, we hopped on a subway, creeping many New Yorkers out along the way. We happened to exit a stop early, but I figured we could walk the rest of the way. 3am on the streets of Brooklyn is not where I would expect to run into someone who recognized us. “Hey, you’re the guys! The guys frem the show!” a mildly inebriated and clearly Scottish man hollered. “Ken I git yer picture?” Of course. “You guys should really stop in this bar down the street, REALLY.”
Now I’m not one to take advice from a Scot lightly, but we were pretty bushed. We decided to stop in for a minute and see what the fuss was about. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just AL DOYLE (also of Hot Chip) and PAT MAHONEY of LCD Soundsystem, having a nice drink after their SECOND TO LAST SHOW OF ALL TIME. We had a beer, met one of the guys who was a panda in the video, Justin, who also happened to be the only one with his glasses outside of his mask, like me. Al thought the costumes were brilliant and was kind enough to sign my three posters with personal messages like “Look out for yourselves!” and “Pandas rock my world!” Love, LCD Soundsystem.
It was 5am by the time we got in bed, but sleep had a hard battle with all of the happy and excited coursing through my brain.
We slept in on day two, took our costumes to the dry cleaners. 3.5 hours of dancing and crowdsurfing at T5 will do a number on a white jumpsuit. We had heard via Faceybooky that there was an official pre-party at Le Bain, an exclusive nightclub at the top of The Standard hotel, featuring DJ sets by Juan Maclean and Shit Robot. These guys are both personal friends, labelmates and cohorts of the band, who made appearances on stage for all of last weeks shows. Give them a listen:
Foaming at the mouth at the prospect of getting into this party, we headed to the Meatpacking District. We were greeted by a long guestlist, with none of our names on it. Let me tell you something about Dance Pandas, we are nothing if not persuasive. A few name drops later and we left the rest of our line-mates to wait in the cold and headed to the top floor. 360 degree, unobstructed views of NYC, Shit Robot on the ones and twos, and a beer in hand. Needless to say, we were happy campers. Juan Maclean came on next and ruled the dance floor. No Swedish House Mafia here. This is dance music, pure and simple. He got us to dance, hard, to Fleetwood Mac for chrissake. The final DJ of the night was none other than our Scottish friend from the night before, Teamy of Glasgow’s nightclub Nice and Sleazy. Guess what? He owned it as well. What a nice filling in the middle of our LCD sandwich. Here’s a little slice of Teamy:
Day two under our belts, we left the club at the reasonable hour of 3am. We had a funeral to get ready for!
The day has finally arrived. Sparkling white panda suits donned, we hit the subway to freak out a few more people on our way to MSG. The moment we get to the entrance of one of the most coveted places to play live music, we are bombarded. “Hey Pandas! Can I get a picture?” “Pandas, over here!” “Can we interview you?” Of course. Oh hey, it’s Spike Jonze. You can definitely film us, Spike, what a silly question!
After many pics and vids, we head in to take our seats. Recently reunited post punk darlings, Liquid Liquid take the stage first. New Yorkers aren’t known for their punctuality and they play to a mostly empty arena. The lights start to go down. The time has come. Let us say goodbye to our favorite band. Dance Yrself Clean is a hell of a way to start a dance party, if you’re taking notes, and we begin to dance through the aisles of MSG. We realize that, again, we are the only ones. The lone pair of endangered Dance Pandas, dancing through pain (my knee was not happy) and heat (you try dancing for 4 hours with a ski mask on), fueled by our love for a band that made the dance floor safe again for the cool.
During the first intermission, they play interviews from fans outside MSG before the show on the two huge screens flanking the stage. It’s a full minute and a half of us being interviewed out front. Played for the entire audience. You could hear a few seconds of the audio on the Pitchfork stream.
It is at this point that the rest of the night took on an amber hue. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. We danced more to our favorite songs, in every part of MSG. Movement, You Wanted A Hit, Home, All My Friends, Losing My Edge, how do they know exactly what I want to hear? A full horn section. Arcade Fire singing backup on North American Scum. A never-before and never-again played cover of Alan Vega’s Bye Bye Bayou. A full men’s choir on Freakout/Starry Eyes. Is this happening?
Security guards ask for ID and tear our tickets, we don’t care. A reporter from the Village Voice asks for a personal photo and gets us past security to behind the stage for a few minutes, dancing in front of 14,000 of our fellow fans.
Waving goodbye to our favorite band, mere feet away. James looking right at us while he sings the last song, New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down. Finale, thousands of white balloons drop from the ceiling. Goodbye, LCD. We love you.
If that had been the end of our night, it would have been enough. It would have been the most. But our night did not end there. A few nights previous, Al Doyle had mentioned the swank hotel that the afterparty was at. Might as well head on over, seems luck had been with us this far. Again, not on the guest list. Strict rules. Sorry, Pandas. We waited outside, happy enough to just be in the vicinity of these people that had made us so happy. Here comes Al, guitar in hand. Great show Al! Big hug from the British multi-instrumentalist. Oh and “Let the Pandas and their friends in, pleaseandthankyou.”
It was all I could do not to pee myself while we got our wrists stamped and were told not to wear the masks inside the hotel. The guest list read like the indie dance music section at Amoeba. Dave from Chromeo, all of Cut Copy, 2manydjs spinning downstairs, Arcade Fire, Reggie Watts, Nic Offer (lead singer of !!!), Juan Maclean, Shit Robot. Us ending the best week of our lives at likely the best party we will ever attend, singing with our fellow fans, James Murphy spinning a few records. We never want this night to end, but it did, and here is the last 10 minutes, including me drunkenly leading everyone in song after the sound got shut down at 5am by the hotel. Nic Offer on backup vocals. (Thanks to Finn Jones for the video).
There you have it. The best week of our lives, the end of one of the best bands of our generation, and the birth of The Dance Pandas, ambassadors of live music, dancing to collapse, and loving every minute of it. Look out for us at Coachella, Sasquatch, and anywhere good music needs dancing to.
The Dance Pandas