A good deciding factor in what you will end up thinking of Shut Up and Play the Hits is your own opinion of LCD Soundsystem. With the release of american dream last month (a great album if you were to ask me), I figured that I would go ahead and watch them deliver a final blow for many fans to see them for the last time in 2011. The whole time I watched Shut Up and Play the Hits, to say the least, I would have wanted to be there to see an incredible show being put up – just as I can only imagine an LCD Soundsystem concert would be like. But knowing they were bound to reunite, it would still be interesting enough to see what they had done for fans one last time. To say the least, it really seemed just like what any final show should have been like, a truly great live performance.
I’ve only really gotten into LCD Soundsystem earlier in the year and I’m a big fan of the music. Whenever LCD Soundsystem was set to perform for many fans to witness, the live performances are nothing short of fantastic. But of course with the sort of music that LCD Soundsystem is known to make the very least you can expect from them is watching put on all the energy that they’ve got to turn in a great show that delivers on every count, so for what’s supposed to be a final blow for them, they don’t disappoint as shown in here. They don’t hold back, it always puts their listeners within a groove, just as a great dance tune would and it always puts oneself in a good mood.
Although the film is fantastic enough when capturing what LCD Soundsystem is like when watching them live, the bits that focus on James Murphy seem to take away. Being produced by Murphy, it’s clear enough why he would be the centerpiece for Shut Up and Play the Hits for he is the main force behind LCD Soundsystem. Not to say that James Murphy himself isn’t a compelling watch, because his own personality would say otherwise, but there’s an extent where this doesn’t feel so much like LCD Soundsystem wanting to capture the perfect goodbye for the many fans that they have acquired over the years and more just a vanity project for James Murphy.
When I talk about how this film seems to play out as a vanity project for Murphy, it seems too focused on Murphy to the point that we rarely ever hear what anyone else has to offer. The interviews don’t particularly seem insightful – those that talk with Murphy especially, rarely feel invested with feeding into Murphy’s creative process. And there also comes by his insistence that LCD Soundsystem has always been a band to him, and then other members seem to be left out. For people who aren’t familiar with LCD Soundsystem, it seems a bit troubling here because all you get from Murphy talking about what LCD Soundsystem is to him just feels so strangely limited.
Thankfully, most of the film focuses on the music are enough to make a rewarding enough experience for the fans of LCD Soundsystem. When you’re watching the concert footage, it recreates the energy of the event whether it be the onstage performance or the roaring crowd of fans – almost as if you are there. It seems to carry what are the best qualities of a concert film right from this very aspect by capturing the liveliness of such an event, knowing that LCD Soundsystem was already set to come to an end – it’s a shame that this isn’t what makes the whole film with the lack of insight to Murphy’s creative process from the interviews which evidently seem indulgent on his own end.
Shut Up and Play the Hits is perhaps the most fitting title, because when you just want the boring interviews to end and want LCD Soundsystem to give what they promised. They promised a good time from their own music, but everywhere else it seems somewhat lacking. And knowing this is an event that has already ended, it still didn’t take away from the energy that was captured on the spot from watching a live performance as if you were there. Shut Up and Play the Hits isn’t to LCD Soundsystem what Stop Making Sense was to Talking Heads (a film whose beauty shines even for those unfamiliar with Talking Heads), but as is – it’s a fun time.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Pulse Films.
Directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace
Produced by Lucas Ochoa, Thomas Benski, James Murphy, Terry Felgate
Featuring James Murphy, Chuck Klosterman
Running Time: 108 minutes
Release Year: 2012