Director: Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace
Cast: James Murphy, Chuck Klosterman, Reggie Watts
Running Time: 108 minutes
Release Date: September 7th
Concert films in recent memory have, by and large, rarely see theatrical release. Most are bundled with a deluxe-edition of an album or sold separately to time with the release of said album. With Shut Up and Play the Hits, there is something different going on. Something that hasn’t been seen in a generation. Much like that other well-known concert film, The Last Waltz, this is marking the end of a band and an attempt to document the reasons behind it.
The film follows a typical narrative that works well for the most part. Filming took place in the space of 48 hours before and after LCD Soundsystem’s final gig in Madison Square Garden, New York. The day before, frontman James Murphy is interviewed by journalist Chuck Klosterman about the gig, his thoughts on the band itself, his decision to quit and his subsequent ‘retirement’. The focus is, of course, on the concert itself and the live performance of their extensive back catalogue. However, interspersed amongst the songs are snippets of Klosterman’s interview, James Murphy walking his dog, recovering from a hangover and attending to final details of the band’s demise.
The film doesn’t address Murphy’s decision to finish LCD Soundsystem satisfactorily. While the concert is fully focused on the ending and how this is to be their last live performance, the reasons are glossed over. He mentions his age, that he wants to start a family and that he likes being anonymous. Yet it never feels like he is being open and honest. It could be that he didn’t want to discuss it or that it wasn’t the primary focus of the film. Yet, it doesn’t exactly ring true that he’s wrapping it all up simply because, as he states himself during the interview, “I want to learn how to make coffee.” Nevertheless, the interview and the reason for finishing the band is only one small part of the film. Those who’ve seen LCD Soundsystem live will know that their electricity and vitality is infectious. Shut Up and Play the Hits, is an honest attempt to recreate the same feeling. Here and there, overly enthusiastic/emotional fans are captured in various stages of unbridled ecstasy and wailing agony. One young male teenager is seen visibly sobbing at the beginning and end of the concert.
Shut Up and Play the Hits will undoubtedly be hailed as a triumph by LCD Soundsystem fans worldwide. However, its appeal can and will extend to those less familiar with their music. James Murphy’s affable and enthusiastic personality shines through both on-stage and during the interviews. It’s worth noting that the rest of the band gets no focus outside of the live performances. Though clearly Murphy is the driving force behind the band, it’s a shame that so little time is spared for the incredible musicians he had playing with him. Overall, Shut Up and Play the Hits is not to be missed. Screaming renditions of ‘North American Scum’ and ’45:33′ deserve to be heard full-blast in a cinema.