I was there: Shut Up and Play the Hits at Sundance London last Friday

I haven’t always loved LCD Soundsystem. The first time I heard ‘Losing My Edge’ on the dancefloor at Trash in the summer of 2002 I did though, even if I couldn’t begin to describe what I was hearing. I think I maybe even asked the DJ what it was. When I got the vinyl, I played it until it ran out, its ridges scratched (better to have loved and played your record than never to have listened to it at all) beyond spinning. Then, later, after the first album I kind of forgot about them for a bit, nothing else quite living up to the searing disco purity of ‘Losing My Edge’ (as seen at Trash, below). >>>

They supported Daft Punk at Hyde Park in 2007, on that laser-spliced, electrified, era-defining afternoon, but I barely remember them being there among the robots. I think mainman/mastermind James Murphy was having a particularly grumpy tour that summer.

But then they came back with third album THIS IS HAPPENING. I saw them at Brixton Academy in 2010 and they made sense again – and James finally looked right, permanently and appropriately dressed in a black suit, tie and white shirt. (I also met and interviewed LCD and Juan MacLean keyboarder/vocalist/icon Nancy Whang, the first lady of postpunkindiedance in London in 2009 and talked to her about jumpsuits, djing and electropop.)

LCD invented the New New York. They were the scene, along with the YYYs and all the other 00s bands that made the city cool again, partying across Brooklyn, occupying lofts and warehouses and just plugging in and bringing us everything DFA  Records. With friends like Tiga and Soulwax and The Juan MacLean and Peaches and Holy Ghost! who wouldn’t want to participate in LCD’s ironic, post-indie transatlantic electroclash love-in? But now it’s over.

Shut Up and Play the Hits, the new documentary about LCD’s last ever gig at Madison Square Garden on 2 April 2011 should be going on release later this year around the UK. It intersperses concert footage with an intense James  Murphy interview by American hipster-scribbler Chuck Klosterman which takes place in the weeks leading up to the gig and a bit of the aftermath – the day after the ‘funeral’ as the singer calls it. The gig scenes are spectacularly rendered and it’s refreshing to see an audience actually dancing, crying, jostling and listening to the band/participating rather than just some bored arms stuck in the air taking crappy pictures on cameraphones.

James knows what it’s like to be a crazy music fan – he was obsessed with Bowie and a studied observer of every great rockstar ever. So it’s important to witness on screen the crowd’s worshipful thanksgiving for his own band, who seemingly, accidentally became brilliant.

And the documentary (which Murphy co-produced) will not disappoint the fans. It includes lines like, “’Losing My Edge’ is not a joke, it’s as serious as a heart attack” (Chuck K), James diffidently musing on his failings and achievements, speaking eruditely on the meaning and importance of Cool and finally, sobbing as he says goodbye to the keyboards/desks/guitars/drums that made LCD. Devastating.

The directors alluded to the fact that there will be a full length concert film at some point (this, at around 2 hours is merely a few highlights of an epic live outing) in the Q&A afterwards, but in the meantime, this poetic tribute to the great American band of our generation will just about do.

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