OPENING NIGHT FILM
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS
18:30 Wednesday 11 July. ICA. BOOK NOW
With kind permission of Pulse Films
On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. LCD frontman James Murphy had made the conscious decision to disband one of the most celebrated and influential bands of its generation at the peak of its popularity, ensuring that the band would go out on top with the biggest and most ambitious concert of its career. The instantly sold out, near four-hour extravaganza did just that, moving the thousands in attendance to tears of joy and grief, with NEW YORK magazine calling the event “a marvel of pure craft” and TIME magazine lamenting “we may never dance again.” SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS is both a narrative film documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.
Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace // Director’s Statement
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS isn’t the film we imagined we would be making when we first approached James Murphy with the idea of doing a project together in the summer of 2010.
Although the decision to end LCD Soundsystem had been made and the final album had been out for a couple of months, there had been no talk of a farewell show at Madison Square Garden. We had no inkling of the way the band would bow out and hadn’t, at that stage, given much thought to the huge change the band’s leader was planning to make to his life.
Our initial meeting came about as we were interested in James as a character, not just as a musician, but also as a figure who represented a certain aspect of contemporary popular culture. We were interested in the very specific type of fame he had achieved in the short ten year history of his band. Not quite a household name but known to those in the know. We were drawn to the fact that he had started the band and come to prominence at the relatively late age of thirty, had achieved success on his own terms, and now in early middle age at a point where the band had never been more popular, was quitting and walking away from it all.
We’d recently directed another music film, that was released earlier that year, “No Distance Left To Run”, which chronicled the career, disintegration and recent reunion of the English band Blur. We were keen to sink our teeth into another project, and had kicked about a number of documentary ideas. but weren’t really sure if we wanted to do another music film – there only seem to be a limited number of stories to tell, and the whole band start/achieve success/fall out over drugs/women/egos seemed a well-trodden path.
But there was something about James and LCD that really appealed as a story. It seemed to be the antithesis of the cliche – here was a band full of people who still liked each other, whose relationships hadn’t disintegrated, who were still making great music, who hadn’t burnt out, but had made the decision to quit calmly and quietly. The question of ‘why?’ seemed like a great starting point for our story. It was a decision that seemed typical of James and his idiosyncratic approach to his work.
Shortly after our first meeting, James told us about the possibility of a final show being played at Madison Square Garden. The news immediately added a whole new dimension to our plans for the film. We knew that as one of the best live bands in the world, this was an important opportunity to also capture a really special event. We had a very specific approach in mind in filming the last concert—to authentically record that very specific moment in time, rather than just “tape a show.” Having worked with LCD before, Spike Jonze offered himself up as part of the team, and captured some amazing moments. Through the narrative use of the cameras we were able to reveal the relationships between band members, the relationship between the audience and the band, and the emotion on everyone’s face as they realized this was the final time any of the songs would be played live. We knew immediately that by capturing the show this way, it would help the narrative, heightening the comparison between James Murphy’s ascent to stardom and his life after LCD Soundsystem played their final show.
The decision to structure the film with cuts between both the concert and the day after came from a desire to explore the reasons behind, and the ramifications of James’ decision to end LCD. Our thought was that seeing James adjusting to the first day of his post LCD life was a good position from which to explore some of the ideas in the narrative. In essence it was a way of dissecting his decision as he faced up to the first day of supposedly normal life. The aim was to contrast the figure of James Murphy the musician on stage playing a huge show at an iconic venue with the figure of James Murphy, the guy who has to take his dog to the end of the street to pee, or answer his emails.
It was our intention to make a film that explored some of the possible reasons James Murphy had for quitting, and in doing so, make a film that both chronicled the end of a band and also tapped into James’ personal experience to reveal universal ideas about age and the decisions we make about our lives.
The Creators Project – Executive Producer
The Creators Project, a global arts and technology initiative from Intel and VICE, acts as an executive producer for SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, the upcoming film chronicling the aftermath of and lead-up to LCD Soundsystem’s Madison Square Garden farewell show. As executive producer, The Creators Project, which regularly collaborates with an international roster of leading filmmakers, artists, musicians and designers, will bring the film to a global audience via its award-winning international event series in the United States, France, Brazil, South Korea and China. In addition, The Creators project will release a series of exclusive editorial and video segments throughout the year on its video channel, TheCreatorsProject.com.
Launched in 2010, The Creators Project is an ongoing multi-year program that is dedicated to identifying leading artists and enabling them to showcase their works and artistic visions through technology and interactive media. The program includes The Studio, an international event series, a documentary TV series, multi-disciplinary collaborative projects and the video website, TheCreatorsProject.com. It has worked with such leading artists such as Karen O, Hussain Chalayan, Anish Kapoor, Florence and the Machince, United Visual Artists, Feng Mengbo, Mark Ronson, Jonothan Glazer, Mick Rock, Barney Clay and David Bowie.