Shut Up And Play The Hits And James Murphy's Legacy: A Friendly Chat

Nick Murray: So we're here today to talk about Shut Up and Play the Hits, the new film (out tomorrow and tomorrow only) that captures LCD Soundsystem's final concert and follows the band's frontman, the inimitable James Murphy, as he embarks on what his British, kind of corny manager might have at one point described as the next chapter of his life. Turning to you, Luis, there's a lot we could potentially talk about here—the band's music, their legacy, what Murphy means by whimsical socks—but let's start with the basics: What did you think of the film? And were you at that Madison Square Garden show?

Luis Paez-Pumar: Well, I was at the show, although I didn't plan to be. I had missed out on the presale but had gotten to go to two of the Terminal 5 shows. Thankfully, a friend had an extra ticket day of, so I did that. As for the film, I think it's a great companion piece to the unedited footage that has been floating around since seemingly the day after. It captures what I imagined the pit experience to be (I had a seat stage right), and there's a joy portrayed on film that matches what I felt that night. Like the quote that starts the film says, it was the best funeral ever. Or maybe just one great party. Were you there? I'd love to hear if you thought it matched up to the electricity of the live experience.

NM: Sadly, I was not there, but I completely believe what you're saying—James Murphy's sound editing was more immediate than any concert audio I've heard in a long time. I also agree about how joyous it often felt, and that's where I thought the film was at its best, those slow-motion sequences of kids jumping wildly in the air because their favorite band is playing their favorite song.

Beyond that, though, I have to admit that I left the theater a bit unsatisified. For all the directors' ambition, I found it sort of fascinating how Shut Up and Play the Hits turned out to be little more than the negative of, say, Justin Bieber's Never Say Never, another 'rockumentary' centered around a sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden. But while Bieber had long dreamed of playing the venue, Murphy tells interviewer Chuck Klosterman that he never even wanted to play shows in the first place; and while Bieber's film sets him up as a precocious musical whiz kid, Murphy claims that the biggest misperception people have about the band is that "[they] think we're special." It'd be worth comparing the descriptions of the crying teen girls in line to see Bieber with the crying early 20-somethings hugging it out to "Someone Great," but we'll save that for a pair of writers more ambitious, or at least more masochistic. Either way, does that comparison make sense? And do you think that beyond the live footage, the film actually offered some insight into Murphy's thought process or those questions of what it means to form a band or call it quits?

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