What is the greatest concert film of all time? Woodstock? Stop Making Sense? The Last Waltz?
While you figure out what the greatest concert film of all time is, I’ll tell you what the 2nd greatest concert film of all time is…Shut Up and Play the Hits.
Earlier this summer for one night only, a handful of theatres across the country hosted screenings of Dylan Southern & William Lovelace’s documentary of LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011. Recently released on DVD, Shut Up and Play the Hits is not only the 2nd greatest concert film of all time, like those other films it’s just a great movie.
It triumphantly and sadly (in equal measure) captures the heartbreak and confusion and excitement of everyone from Stephen Colbert, to kids in panda costumes to frontman James Murphy himself. It’s a sumptously filmed and edited portrait of one of this generation’s greatest bands calling it quits while gloriously capturing their lightning-in-a-bottle live performance. The film toggles between Murphy’s last interview with Chuck Klosterman, the frenetic anxiety of the day of the show and the morning after as Murphy wakes up to a post-LCD life with a hangover, a phone full of messages, and his nonplussed bulldog.
The film feels like a post-millenial rock Ulysses as we follow Murphy from the past into the immediate on a journey through the city to meet the band for an intimate dinner the night after their last show, with stops at cafes, meetings with his manager, and a stop at the warehouse to inventory the LCD equipment before it goes on sale(?) . That scene, although austere, is one of the heaviest moments I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. A glimpse into inner workings of bandlife and the way in which instruments carry the fetishized emotional weight of the reliability of years of touring.
The DVD comes with the documentary and 2 additional discs of the concert in it’s entirety, which includes awesome performances of “Tribulations” and “All I Want.”
Although it’s a little heartbreaking, to be able to pop in a DVD whenever I want and watch “All My Friends;” Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang, Al Doyle, Gavin Russom, Gunner Bjerk, Tyler Pope, David Scott Stone and James Murphy and their friends (Reggie Watts, Arcade Fire) perform all their hits for a couple of hours through laughter, sweat and tears is a truly great thing, even if it does make me cry (like the kid who seemingly spent the entire concert weeping in the front row.)
– Mario Cotto