Al Doyle, arcade fire, chuck klosterman, david scott stone, dfa, documentary, farewell, final show, Gavin Russom, J.D. Mark, james murphy, Jerry Fuchs, lcd soundsystem, losing my edge, madison square garden, matt thornley, nancy whang, oscilloscope, oscilloscope laboratories, pat mahoney, Phil Mossman, Phil Skarich, rockumentary, shut up and play the hits, sound of silver, this is happening, tyler pope
I recently watched the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits that covers the very last show that the band LCD Soundsystem ever played on April 2, 2011, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and its frontman, James Murphy, as he tries to grasp the enormity of the event and how the dissolution of the band will change his life.
The film’s structure is very interesting as it changed back and forth between three portions of time – the actual concert itself, portions of an interview, both video and voiceover, Murphy is having with journalist Chuck Klosterman that is occurring before the concert and the following of Murphy the day after the show as he winds down the business side of the band. Had Murphy not shaved his grzzled beard for the portion that takes place after the final show, it might be indistinguishable what we are watching.
The latter of the three timelines is the most telling as Murphy goes to the band’s office for the first time in over a year (funny watching as he tries to get the coffee machine to work), talks to the manager of the band about storing the band’s gear and is supposed to meet with the band members to have a final dinner together. It is unclear whether Murphy ever made it to the dinner as the filmmakers intercut shots of Murphy in a cab, pensive and contemplative, with shots of all of the other members of the band and their families as they enjoy the meal. Perhaps the most powerful moment of the film is when Murphy goes to the storage space where all of the band’s gear is and he breaks from his cool and collected demeanor and cries, realizing that the run is over.
This band like so many touched people, caused them to drop everything they were doing to see this final show, which was 4+hours long (they enlisted the help of other musicians like Arcade Fire to assist in the festivities). Some were even brought to tears by what they saw and what they would likely never see again.
In the pantheon of rock documentaries, this one fares quite well. It is an intimate portrait of James Murphy and a nice tribute to a great band. The camera work in the film is just outstanding. The concert footage is quite incredible, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. I do wish that we would have gotten some insight from the other members of the band about the end of LCD Soundsytem. I think that would have provided for a more rounded film. Part of me gets tired of the lead singer being the focus of these types of films.
It is as grand a farewell as I could imagine for a band. I guess that stands for something.