Most will say that you can never have too much of a good thing. Being a rockstar especially, one has to wonder how hard it would be to give it all up in order to have a “real life.” James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem did exactly that when they performed for the last time to a sell-out crowd in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, or as James refers to it simply as, “a boxing arena.” Shut Up and Play the Hits is the documentary chronicling the week leading up to, and the day after, this epic performance. Since The Fridge does not specialize in film review (yet) here are some casual observations from the flick that are worthy of discussion. If you had the pleasure of seeing Shut Up and Play the Hits, we would love to hear what you thought of it. Drop us a line.
- Chuck Klosterman’s inclusion was fantastic. Serving as the narrator of sorts, the dialog throughout the film is mostly centered around an interview between Chuck and James Murphy in a New York restaurant. Chuck has always been known for thought provoking reading, which must stem from his ability to interview. The interview kicks off with James being asked, “when one starts a band, does one imagine how it will end?” More on this later.
- Throughout the movie we flash back and forth between the raucous MSG concert, and much more tranquil environments, such as the table side interview. This is the first time I’ve ever wished I could wear headphones in the theater, because when the concert scenes did hit, they weren’t nearly loud enough! Headphone jacks in movie-theater seats may be my ticket to fame & fortune, don’t tell anyone.
- There is a moment in the film where, and I forget why, Murphy is talking about the talent of the band members saying that no one is especially gifted or that there is a misconception that everyone in the band are geniuses. While I may agree that there certainly wasn’t an undiscovered prodigy waiting in the wings, one could argue that the band, as a whole, achieved genius level. No member can stand alone, hell James isn’t even a great singer, but the sound & atmosphere the group was able to produce in studio, or better yet live, was out of this world. And if nothing else, they amassed a huge following.
- Speaking of which, the movie captures the emotions of a LCD show perfectly! People on the rail moshing during the freakout in “Losing My Edge,” (or maybe it was “Yeah” I can’t remember) tears flowing during “All My Friends,” and people generally having the time of their lives. Who could fault them?
- There is a feeling that can only be likened to waking up alone the morning after a break-up the night before. A sense of loneliness and remorse, questioning whether you made the right decision. The photo above is capturing this exact moment for James Murphy as he checks on the band’s gear in the storage space the morning after the show and breaks down to tears. Admittedly, my eyes were welling up as well.
Chuck Klosterman closed out the interview, and the film, with a question framed around a theory of his. It says that a celebrity of a certain status is defined by their successes, but oftentimes remembered most for their failure. Using Michael Jordan as an example he described Michael’s unfaltering competitive nature, and subsequent gambling addiction to be his biggest failure. Posing the question to Murphy, he was noticeably perplexed. Trying to brush the question aside he noted that he was really upset about having to miss shows in Dublin due to the Volcano explosion in Europe in 2010. Klosterman didn’t let up, and pressed the question again. Murphy then noted, as he adjusted in his seat from the distress caused by the question with an ambivalent look on his face, that it was impossible to know now, but that it was probably stopping. (Many might argue it’s “Drunk Girls.”) Now, there was chatter above about when a band forms, whether or not they plan on how it will end. For a band like LCD Soundsystem, with an unclear beginning, isn’t it only right that they knew exactly when they would end? An inverse of a band’s typical lifecycle?
If there was ever any question of this writer’s LCD fanboy-dom, the film only reaffirmed every notion I’ve ever had about this group; they are my favorite band of the aught’s (2000′s), and possibly of all time. Thank you, James Murphy and thank you, LCD Soundsystem.