“Unfortunately we’re not having press at these dates,” is what I was officially told when I inquired about covering the LCD Soundsystem shows at new local venue Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost Street). Additional requests to the venue and their PR firm were returned with radio silence. If Brooklyn Steel wanted to hype up their grand opening, what better way to do it than having a local band in comeback mode break in the stage with surprise performances? Might as well add a press blackout to the mix to pump up the mystique.
When the five shows were announced just a couple weeks ago, my heart fluttered. The new venue, by far the biggest in the neighborhood, is just a few blocks from my house. Plus, LCD Soundsystem is sacred to me, with James Murphy being an inspiration for me to start DJing at the ripe old age of 35. Last year, I traveled across the globe to see them play (after losing my wallet just 36 hours before, breaking out in hives due to a newly acquired shellfish allergy and leaving my laptop at the Ibiza airport), and I often reminisce about the first time I saw the band live in 2005, gracing the legendary Fillmore’s stage in San Francisco. I’ve seen the band perform live several times, and James Murphy DJ sets about the same amount. So you could call me a superfan.
I figured I’d join the masses and try to snag one of the $60 tickets online the moment they went on sale. And then came the waiting…. Fifteen minutes before the on-sale I was placed in a virtual “waiting room” on AXS’s site. And then 12pm hit, and still I was in the waiting room queue. Then I had to unlock a series of inane captchas identifying street signs to prove I’m not a robot, and selected the number of tickets I wanted. None available. I tried again, for different dates. Entered the captchas again. Nothing. No tickets available. I texted my friends—no one else was able to get tickets, either. Five shows at a massive venue a few blocks from my apartment just sold out in less than five minutes, and crashed the AXS ticket site. I immediately checked StubHub—tickets there were already going for about $300 a pop.
Yesterday, the first show day, some tickets were released last minute at the Rough Trade (64 N 9th St.) box office at 5pm. A Rough Trade employee told me that the staff were not given advance notice that the ticket release would happen, and that they didn’t know if more tickets would be released there for the remainder of the shows. Having arrived at Rough Trade after the tickets were already gone, I decided to try my luck outside the venue before the show. I withdrew a wad of cash from my bodega ATM and headed over.
The night was balmy, and standing outside the venue you could see the glowing arches of the McDonald’s on Meeker Avenue peeking through the mist. The venue is right underneath a major flight path, so there were constantly low flying planes passing overhead. It’s across the street from housing projects, and down the street from a feral cat colony. As a former steel manufacturing facility, it’s in the middle of a bunch of warehouses, too. So it’s clear why this spot was chosen for a large music venue. The surrounding streets are wide so trucks can get through, and as I stood there Frost Street started to get jammed up with cabs and Ubers as horns honked and hoards of 20 and 30-somethings got out and marched toward the venue. I overheard people sharing their stories of how they got tickets—“I dunno, I just got lucky,” one guy humblebragged to his buddies. Another guy, like me, was looking for tickets on the street and though he knew they were going for more than $250 on StubHub he was willing to pay up to $100 in cash. I also saw a small handful of people turned away from the venue, who had unwittingly bought fake tickets. One guy was walking away with a girl and apologizing that they couldn’t get in. “Eighty bucks. I should have known it was a scam,” he muttered.
In the 45 minutes I stood around outside, I noticed more ticket buyers than sellers. No one was giving any up—I didn’t see even one ticket change hands. Feeling depressed, I left and headed to the closest watering hole—Humboldt & Jackson (434 Humboldt St.)—to drown my sorrows. The bartender told me that they’re offering a $10 for any cocktail deal to Brooklyn Steel ticket holders. Which, sadly, did not include me. And having waited around so long in front of the venue, I missed the $5 happy hour wine, and had to pay full price. No LCD ticket, no show, no drink special.
A post shared by Brooklyn Vegan (@brooklynvegan) on
Come to find out, apparently one of the reasons for the press blackout at the shows is because the band is debuting new material. A large sign was posted up in front of the venue, requesting that fans refrain from filming. Last night they played three new songs—Tonight, Call Police, and American Dream. I haven’t heard the songs, but if I took a stab in the disco dark I’d guess that their new material might lean political.
I’m going to try to get a ticket again tonight, and the next night, and probably all of the nights. But I might just end up back at the local bar again. Though I should make it known that if you’ve got a spare ticket, I’ve got the cash, and I’m desperate. I’ll meet you to the left of the feral cat colony and we can make the swap.
UPDATE: Show Day 2. Following Brooklyn Steel closely on Twitter, I was alerted to a batch of tickets again being released at Rough Trade at 5pm. I headed over and was in line by 5:10pm, with about 70 fans in front of me, and about that many behind me. I made friends with the people standing near me in the line, the way if you’re trapped in an elevator there’s instant camaraderie. You’re in this shit together. It was about 40 degrees outside, and the wind whipped off the East River. They were letting people in 10 at a time to purchase tickets. We all waited, and waited for about an hour. The vibe was intense, and myself and my new friends were all extremely nervous. Everyone was hoping for a miracle—maybe James Murphy himself would pull up in a black SUV and suddenly start handing us all tickets. Maybe a friend would randomly text us and say he had a free one. Something. Then, with just two people in front of me, the show SOLD OUT. I was gutted. My new friends and I didn’t say goodbyes. The crowd dispersed and I don’t know what everyone else did, but I went home to a glass of bourbon and sat in the dark, listening to the new Future Islands record.