Genre: Documentary, Music
Directed by: Will Lovelace & Dylan Southern
On April 2nd, 2011 LCD Soundsystem defiantly took to the stage for the very last time at Madison Square Garden. ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’ is a film documenting both the final show, and the life of frontman James Murphy and other members of the LCD crew, in the run up to the climactic show and in the 24 hours after the gig, where Murphy appears totally spent. The film was given a theatrical release at 9.00pm in theatres across the country to mark the occasion, and a live Q&A took place afterwards (filmed in Hackney, and hosted by Edith Bowman). A real treat for LCDSS fans.
Although the Q&A was enjoyable, the film itself included as good an interview that Murphy has ever done, the questions sharp and hard-hitting, Murphy’s answers candid and deep. The eclectic film covered all aspects of the band and why they decided to call it a day at MSG last year, with a stark juxtaposition from the gripping nature of the interviews, the day-in-a-life style stalking of James Murphy the day after the show and, of course, the intensity of the show itself.
Indeed, the film shed some serious light on the band’s seemingly controlled end, which appeared solely on their own terms. Again, this sense of control was completely contrasted with the sheer emotion of the band, with Murphy struggling to keep it together in places, glancing at other members of the band, mouthing ‘No, no, I’m alright’, before eventually breaking down in tears at the end of the set.
The film then, is full of contradictions. Perhaps not least that the band wanted to view the night as ‘one last party’, yet at times did their very best to make it seem like a funeral. Ending their show with ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’ felt like a requiem, and James’s older brother appearing to congratulate him also expressed a similar emotion. It was perhaps these conflicting emotions that created such a strange atmosphere in the theatre. It felt like everybody wanted to get up and dance, and scream and shout every time they smashed their way through another indie-rock anthem; yet nobody could quite bring themselves to do it. Perhaps, because whenever they did feel that way, a melancholy James Murphy would appear with a face of sorrow, or maybe because we all realised that we would never get an opportunity to see this fantastic band live again.
But then, LCD Soundsystem are a weird band that are full of contradictions. When they stormed into the music scene back in 2001 with the single ‘Loosing my Edge’ (which is performed live in the film) Murphy was 31 and reclusive, yet had an army of young adoring hipster fans, and turned down composing for Janet Jackson, yet accepted for Nike. The film accurately documents the organisation and the chaos of a truly unique band, which the music scene shall greatly miss.