review: shut up and play the hits

Disclaimer: On Wednesday, I went to a screening of Shut Up and Play The Hitsa documentary that chronicles LCD Soundsystem‘s final show at Madison Square Garden in April 2011.  I did not write down any of my thoughts after the showing, then I went out drinking.  Thus, this is probably not going to be the most comprehensive review you’ll read.  Proceed at your own risk.

The last time LCD Soundsystem played Houston, I did not attend.  I went to see The National instead.  It was a mediocre show and I have been regretting that decision ever since.

So in a futile attempt to rewrite history, I went to the showing of Shut Up and Play the Hits, directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, at River Oaks Theatre.  I got there about 30 minutes beforehand, so I had the opportunity to wait in line with some of Houston’s biggest LCD Soundsystem fans.  After about 10 minutes of waiting, I decided I hated 90% of them.

But that’s okay!  Because just as soon as I’d gotten bored of refreshing my twitter feed, the line was moving and I was in my seat with a couple of Lone Stars.  I reconsidered and decided I only hated 65% of the audience.  But to be fair, some of them were wearing birthday hats and/or glow necklaces. So really, they brought it on themselves.

On to the movie itself:  the film alternated between three main scenes: James Murphy’s interview with author/critic Chuck Klosterman a few days before the final show, James Murphy’s actions the day after the show, and the show itself.  It was a smart decision to dedicate as much of the film to the non-concert actions as they did.  Because as awesome as it is to watch a really good concert on film, you’re not actually at the concert, and no amount of cinematography can change that.

The interview and day-after scenes also served to give context to the concert, particularly for the more casual LCD Soundsystem fans.  But the subject matter was also important.  One of James Murphy’s hallmarks – which was highlighted in the film – is his strong sense of self-awareness, sometimes bordering on self-consciousness.  That, combined with Chuck Klosterman’s pretentious-yet-thought-provoking questions, provided enough dialogue to give the film a sense of narrative, without trying to push the audience to any particular conclusion.

The scenes of the concert itself were fantastic.  The camera angles, featuring copious shots of the audience and behind-the-scenes along with more traditional stage shots, gave the audience a real sense of the energy and emotion of that night.

And yes, most likely they played your favorite LCD song.  For me, it was “All Your Friends,” but they also featured “Losing My Edge” and “North American Scum,” among others.  There were close-ups of the fantastic guests, including Reggie Watts and members of Arcade Fire.  Basically all of the songs had me nodding along, secretly wishing I could get up and dance.

The film ended as the show ended – with an emotional take on “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.”  Perhaps it didn’t end like the dance party I wanted, but it did leave me satisfied.

Okay, so by now you’re probably thinking – why is she telling me about this awesome film, if it was a special “one-night-only” showing?  Because the screenings did so well – selling out in most places – that many theaters are adding a second showing the coming week.   You can find out if that includes your theater here.

Or just wait a few years, and start claiming that you saw it.  Better yet – wait a few more years and tell everyone you were actually at the final show at MSG.  That’s my plan, at least.

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4 comments
  1. Nice review. I’m looking forward to seeing this at some point.

  2. Great review, I’ll have to check it out if it ever crosses the pond

    • I heard the showings were pretty successful here, so hopefully it’ll get over to you!

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