By Codi Glancy
Directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, “Shut Up and Play the Hits” opened last night across the country. The critically acclaimed documentary follows James Murphy, the lead singer of LCD Soundsystem, a week before their final show at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011. The film was shown in multiple cities, but only for the night. I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the showing at Midtown Art Cinema.
I personally had no idea how successful LCD was. When I heard that they were playing a sold out Madison Square Garden as their farewell, my mind was blown. “Shut Up and Play the Hits” beautifully captured the chaos of the band’s “funeral.” The film is filled with behind the scenes footage during the show, Murphy’s appearance on the “Colbert Report,” live performances of the band, and the day after the finale. In between live footage of the concert, an interview between Chuck Klosterman and Murphy often plays over silent clips of Murphy doing daily tasks, asking what his life will be like without LCD Soundsystem. Klosterman brings out honesty in Murphy that was unexpected. By the end of the film the front man finally states that the defining failure of the band could be that he quit.
The live performance footage included songs “Losing My Edge,” “North American Scum (featuring Arcade Fire), “43:55 (featuring Reggie Watts), “Someone Great,” “All My Friends,” and ended with “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.” While the film was only 110 minutes, LCD’s final performance lasted over 4 hours.
“Shut Up and Play the Hits” juxtaposition between the band’s performance and Murphy’s regular life adds a humanizing quality to the front man. We often view people of this caliber in fame as non-human, as if they don’t have daily lives and struggles. It’s always fascinating when we see them as every day people. He is such an icon to thousands of people, that when we finally see him crying over the band’s equipment the day after, hearts were breaking (the man sitting next to me actually started crying on his wife’s shoulder during the scene). This film and Murphy have such inspiring qualities that it is basically impossible for me to say anything negative about it. It encourages viewers to live their dreams and do what the want, but also painfully acknowledges the fact that everything good comes to end eventually.
It’s hard to fully gauge the impact one band has during their time together. Whether it be measured in album sales, sold out shows or fan dedication, bands come and go, and often don’t leave a scratch in history. LCD Soundsystem took a chunk out of the world in only a brief 10 years. Their three album is discography is constantly being played in stereos around the world. That annoying hipster next door is talking about the significance of the band’s debut self-titled album, while my mom is personally blasting “Daft Punk is Playing At My House” as she drives through Las Vegas suburbs in her Subaru. “Shut Up and Play the Hits” documents their legacy and, in a way, immortalizes the band.