LCD Soundsystem Film Screens at The Westcott Theater

Shut Up and Play The Hits, a film documenting the bands final, sold out show at Madison Square Garden, screened in Syracuse last night.


When James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem announced the band’s final show over a year ago, fans rushed to buy tickets to what would turn into a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. With the release of Shut Up and Play the Hits (directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern), those at the show will get to relive the experience, and those who missed out can get a taste of what the night was like.

Initially limited in its release, the plan was that the film would play in select theaters for one night only. More screenings have been coordinated across the country, and last night The Westcott Theater hosted the film just off campus.

In the first few scenes of Shut Up and Play the Hits, we see the end of the concert interjected with shots of Murphy in his apartment the next morning. Murphy pads around his apartment—feeding his dog, brewing coffee, and listening to phone messages—and Madison Square Garden empties. It is a strange juxtaposition of the final concert’s revelry and Murphy’s own normality.

The rest of the film is comprised mostly of live music, Murphy’s interview with cultural critic Chuck Klosterman and shots of the band backstage. Footage of songs including “Dance Yrself Clean,” “All My Friends” and “North American Scum” are interjected with Murphy’s thoughts on music, culture, aging and pretention (in one scene, we hear Murphy reflect on wanting to be cool while we watch him meticulously shave his beard in front of the mirror). This mixtures serves to let the audience be a part of the concert experience, while exploring Murphy’s own thoughts and insecurities.

At the same time, the film illuminates the cultural relevance of LCD Soundsystem, examining why Murphy would have wanted to disband the group at the height of success.

Klosterman pointedly asks, “When you start a band, do you imagine how it will end?” 

The audience in Westcott Theater collectively paused for Murphy’s answer, which he doesn’t really articulate. Rather, we see that end as it’s happening.

During much of the Westcott’s screening there seemed to be a feeling that the audience had collectively transported to the show on screen. People started by tapping their feet and nodding their heads in restrained participation, and dancing eventually broke out on the side of the theater. On screen, James Murphy talked about his own experiences listening to artists and believing in the culture associated with the music as much as the music itself. Murphy understands the way in which music can create a cultural moment you want to be a part of. Shut Up and Play the Hits gave the audience a chance to engage in and relive that cultural moment.

Ultimately, Shut Up and Play the Hits is an ambitious concert film that does more than provide a great dance soundtrack. The MSG show and film end in unison, as we watch Murphy and bandmates perform “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.” White balloons are released on the crowd, the music turns to feedback, the band members hug one another, and the crowd begins to dissipate. In it’s last moments, the film perfectly captures the feeling after a great show when you feel slightly disoriented and are wondering why it’s over—you’re in love with the music and never want it to end, as it inevitably does.



What a well written piece

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