On April 2, 2011, LCD Soundsystem played arguably their biggest and most important show of their career; a near-instant sellout of Madison Square Garden in New York City. While for some bands that could be used as a building block, this was billed as LCD Soundsystem's final performance. The show sold out so quickly that the band needed to add four shows at another local venue, Terminal 5, in an effort to meet demand. What resulted on that fateful night was 18,000 people dancing for nearly four hours in what stands to this day as one of my favorite concerts I've ever attended..
What resulted from that incredibly lengthy show was one of the most well-crafted rockumentaries ever created. Mixing a story-arc surrounding the life of front-man James Murphy, which was pieced together with songs from the show, backstage footage, and an ongoing narrative taken from an interview between Murphy and writer Chuck Klosterman.
Klosterman's role in the film has been debated significantly. I believe it was a well-used narrative feature which kept the storyline progressing. While as a fan I would have loved to see more footage from the show itself, these extra elements added a storyline and made it a true film as opposed to just watching the concert.
The question instantly jumps to where this stands in the pantheon of great rockumentaries. The Last Waltz rightfully is the greatest concert film of all time, as Martin Scorsese's brilliance combined with one of the greatest performances in rock history makes the film both revolutionary and exquisite. Stop Making Sense, the fantastic Jonathan Demme film chronicling the Talking Heads is also a masterpiece of concert filmmaking; however, in a genre that is constantly saturated with releases, Shut Up and Play the Hits stands above the rest.
The 21st century has allowed these films to be shot in higher quality than ever before, and the benefit of extreme clarity and near-perfect sound certainly gives this film an edge over the aforementioned films; however, the past twelve years have provided the movie-going public with plenty to chew on. Phish's Bittersweet Motel was well intentioned but flawed, as was Awesome...I Shot That, which chronicled the Beastie Boys. While many films seek to capture the raw emotion of a concert, Shut Up and Play the Hits goes above and beyond, as even those who are not fans of the band would enjoy the film for its narrative aspects as well as the concert scenes. Overall, this is an absolute must see film which will certainly stand the test of time, fan of LCD Soundsystem or not. The projected release date for the DVD/Blu Ray is in October and there have been rumblings of a music-only version as well.