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Student Review Of “Shut Up and Play the Hits”: A Very Loud Funeral

If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever.

This is the title card that opens up this incredible documentary chronicling the last 48 hours of the band LCD Soundsystem who performed their final three and a half hour show at Madison Square Garden on April 2nd, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tK7ERRrpzo

A Little History of the Band:

LCD Soundsystem began in 2001 when their first single “Losing My Edge” gained widely favorable reviews for its new and electronic beat and the message that it conveyed. The band then released their first album “LCD Soundsystem” which also received highly favorable reviews. The head of the band, James Murphy, is a DJ now after his retirement and never wanted anything to come out of the band. He remarks in the film that, “…I never wanted to tour.” Murphy just wanted to do what he loved and that was to make music. In 2007, their second album “Sound of Silver” was released with the singles “North American Scum”, “All My Friends” (MY FAVORITE), and “Someone Great”. By this time, the band was touring around the country, was garnering a very successful fan base, and along the way Murphy enlisted his friends to play with him at concerts. In 2010, their third and final album was released entitled “This Is Happening”. Murphy’s intention with the album was to keep it secret for as long as possible so as not to spoil it for any fans. The album was released on May 17th with subsequent singles “Drunk Girls” and “I Can Change”, the former accompanied by a music video directed by Spike Jonze. On February 8th, 2011, the band announced that they would be playing their last show on April 2nd. When tickets were released the site crashed and Murphy went on a rant on his Twitter saying that he hated scalpers who bought tickets and were selling them for ridiculous amounts of money. In order for fans to see them the band played four warmup shows at Terminal 5 the days before the final show. On April 2nd, Murphy and the band played their final three and a half hour show accompanied by Reggie Watts, Arcade Fire, and numerous other friends and guests and just as fast and as crazy as the start of the band, LCD Soundsystem was no more.

The Movie:

The begins with the title card (See above) and immediately dives right into the final minutes before the show where Murphy and his band are sitting in the dressing room preparing for the show. What happens then is pure magic. The documentary wastes no time into getting right to the concert and the show begins with “Dance Yrself Clean”. The movie is interwoven with intricate and beautiful shots of the diehard crowd, the band itself, and the morning after when James Murphy wakes up in his New York apartment to the licks of his French Bulldog, Petunia, who seems to be the most well-behaved dog ever almost as if she understands the conflicting emotions her master is going through. Also interwoven is an interview conducted a week before the show between Murphy and Chuck Klosterman. The shots of the band are so gorgeous though and they should be since so many cameras were used and some of the shots were filmed by great directors such as Spike Jonze. The songs played throughout the film are “Dance Yrself Clean”, “All My Friends”, “45:33″, “Sound of Silver (Intro)”, “Us v Them”, “North American Scum”, “Movement”, “Yeah (Outro)”, “Someone Great”, “Losing My Edge”, “Jump Into The Fire (Harry Nillson cover)”, and “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”.

Also watch for cameos by Aziz Ansari who can be seen crowd surfing during “Yeah” and Donald Glover who can be seen dancing during “Yeah”.

The Review:

For those of you asking who LCD Soundsystem are and why this concert was sold out, I will tell you. The reason LCD Soundsystem is hailed as one of the most influential bands of the past decade is for 1) Their unique sound which combines an electronic, dance, punk theme with rock instruments and 2) Their ideas. One of the reasons people love LCD Soundsystem is because they always hated being labeled as something. They didn’t want to be anything big or popular. They simply wanted to be. Murphy made LCD Soundsystem because he wanted to hear the music he wanted to hear so he thought he should make it himself. That’s why LCD Soundsystem played to a sold-out crowd on April 2nd, 2011 at Madison Square Garden. Murphy also loved his fans. He cared about them and thanked them all for coming. He apologized to the people high up in the seats. He cared about his fans. The ending to the film plays out so well in the story that even if you have never heard of LCD Soundsystem before you might get tears in your eyes when Murphy announces that it’s their last song and “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” starts playing. Murphy pauses a few seconds in and says, “This is my last time to do a dramatic pause.” You can hear the sadness in his voice when he says this. The movie ends with white balloons falling down from the ceiling and a crying boy in the audience.

Why is this last show such a big deal? How are so many people affected by this?¬†The big question on everyone’s mind after the initial announcement was, “Why end a band at the top of your career?”

 Murphy gives two answers:
1) “When I was 39, I said I’m going to make an album (This Is Happening). I blinked and I was 40.” Murphy started his career relatively late at around 30 years old. He stated that he still wanted to have a family and kids. Every time he went on tour he said he found new gray.
2) Murphy wanted to end the band at the top of their career. He wanted to be remembered. It was not a matter of failing. It was a matter of wanting to end on a high note. In my opinion, LCD got better with every album. Their first album was a beginner, “Sound of Silver” was a really fun time with good singles, and “This Is Happening” was the peak of their career with every song being something different. It’s one of those albums that you could listen to over and over again.
Who wouldn’t want to end their career at the top and be remembered for being on the top?

Is It Worth Your Money:

If you are a diehard LCD fan, then you should definitely invest in the Blu-Ray which has the entire show on its other two discs although I would recommend this to anyone since the music is SO enjoyable. You might find a new band you love.

 

LCD Soundsystem, I love you and you will always be remembered!

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