Wednesday, July 18, 2012
If you didn’t get to see that momentous three-hour LCD Soundsystem farewell concert, here’s your chance to feel like you were there. Tonight, the documentary “Shut Up and Play the Hits” is at select theaters across the country, including The Lyric in Oxford. “Shut Up and Play the Hits” follows LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy the day before and after the concert as well as the concert day itself.
LCD Soundsystem came onto the dance-punk scene in 2002 with the single “Losing My Edge.” Over the next nine years, the group released three critically acclaimed albums.
Directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern wanted a new, more personal project after they finished working on the music documentary, “No Distance Left to Run” about the band Blur. After meeting Murphy through a mutual friend and hearing that he planned on ending LCD Soundsystem, Lovelace and Southern decided to pursue the story.
“When we saw the (announcement) for the show at the (Madison) Square Garden, we thought it would be an opportunity to make an amazing concert film, but also something with a little more to it,” Southern said. They focus a bit more on the emotional aspect of the ordeal.
“(Murphy) was reaching the peak of his popularity, and he could have gone on and on,” Southern said. “Our whole interest was why would make that decision to end a band at that point and how would that feel.”
One topic addressed in the film is why exactly Murphy decided to call it quits. Southern and Lovelace enlisted the help of music journalist Chuck Klosterman to get that question answered. They sought him out after reading an interview between the two of them done for The Guardian in 2010.
“Every time you ask him that question, he’s got a different answer,” Southern says. “I think he always saw the band as a finite thing—that it wouldn’t go on forever.” Perhaps he was continuing the band for the wrong reasons, which was because he had gotten to the stage where people expected him to go on.
“Shut Up and Play the Hits” is more like a character profile than a concert film or story. It goes from mundane moments such as Murphy waking up the day after the show, still wearing his tuxedo shirt, to shots of the concert and the crowd there.
“You’d expect him to be warming up his vocal chords or relaxing into the show, but he was all over the place backstage concentrating on all the tiniest details,” Southern said about Murphy during the day of the farewell concert. He checked sound on his laptop, gave out wristbands to guests. “It was like he was micromanaging various situations.”
The Sundance Film Festival featured the documentary “Shut Up and Play the Hits” in January. Southern said that both fans of LCD Soundsystem and those who had never heard of the band enjoyed the film.
“It’s nice to see it in a theater with a full audience and the sound as loud as it can go,” Southern said about the film, which features LCD Soundsystem performing several songs uncut including “Losing My Edge” and “All of My Friends.” “(During) some of the screenings, people can’t help but move.”
In The New York Times, Zach Baron describes the film as “a loud, bruising, emotional concert film that, perhaps in the spirit of the band that it chronicles, asks more questions than it answers.”
“Shut Up and Play the Hits” plays at 8 p.m. at The Lyric (1006 Van Buren Ave., Oxford, 662-234-5333).