After riling up fans and completely selling out every exclusive, one-night-only showing in North America of the their documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits (which we previewed here), LCD Soundsystem’s documentary can now be rented ($5) or purchased exclusively via iTunes for $12.99. Fit for diehard LCD Soundsystem fans and newcomers alike, “Shut Up and Play the Hits captures the last days of LCD from frontman James Murphy’s point of view. The movie contains amazing concert footage, people dressed up as panda bears, Aziz Ansari crowd surfing, and some guy crying (a lot), as well as an extensive interview with James Murphy as he’s questioned ‘Why end LCD now?’, ‘What’s next?’ and ‘Did Daft Punk really play at your house?’ It’s a very emotional experience, to see something so good end by choice. At least with the documentary we can relive the best time of our lives again and again.
But there’s a bit more to Shut Up and Play the Hits than just that, or maybe there’s less to it. After deciding to disband at the peak of LCD’s popularity and influence, there were many questions and feelings left unclosed — both among band members and fans. These are explored through the narrative of the documentary: an intense, in-depth interview with New York Times writer / verbose cultural critic / Cocoa Puff eater Chuck Kolsterman, acting as a cumulative interview of every interview James Murphy has previously taken part in. Essentially, getting all the answers we would want in one place. While it’s important to have those answers, as well as further insight as to why James Murphy would decide to disband his group at such a high point in their career, there’s a lack of narratives from fellow band members. Not only are the band members’ appreciation, anticipation, anxiety, excitement or sadness not even captured, but their stories remain utterly untold. Never have I read an interview that delves into any music related subject matter from fellow LCD bandmates that scratches the surface of the intricate questions James Murphy is asked.
LCD is a tight-knit group of extremely dedicated and talented artists who have not only lent themselves and their skills to this band for about a decade, but they’ve also participated in many side- and solo-projects of their own that reside on DFA Records (Murphy’s record label), and are important figures within the dance and disco genres that LCD energizes. Without their stories being told, I feel the audience only receives a fraction of the real story behind LCD Soundsystem. This is not to say I am unappreciative of the documentary or the insight Murphy shares as to why he made his decision, but I think he’d agree that bandmates Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney and Tyler Pope were equally as affected by the decision. Where were their voices in the matter? What are they doing now that LCD is no longer a focus in their lives? Will they all be working at Murphy’s coffee shop? Murphy certainly plays the role of the reluctant and thoughtful superstar to a tee, yet he clearly had artistic direction in this documentary — a curious contradiction that makes one wonder how much weight does/did he give his LCD bandmates? This is also not to say I will not be purchasing the documentary, I’m just waiting for a physical copy.