In concert film, a last waltz for LCD Soundsystem
FILE - This Jan. 23, 2012 file photo shows James Murphy from the film "Shut Up And Play The Hits," posing for a portrait during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 in Park City, Utah. "Shut Up and Play the Hits," is a soon-to-be-released concert documentary about LCD Soundsystem's last show. (AP Photo/Victoria Will, file)
NEW YORK (AP) — Asked to characterize "Shut Up and Play the Hits," a concert film that documents LCD Soundsystem's final, oft-mythologized show at Madison Square Garden, James Murphy deadpans a television promo.
"Middle-age guy stops band. Pictures at 11."
The film, which plays in theaters for one night Wednesday, is a kind of "The Last Waltz" for a new generation: an adored band going out with a self-induced, possibly premature bang. But it's also, as the filmmakers Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace say, "a character study" of Murphy, whose decision to end LCD Soundsystem is as curious to the man who made it as it is to anybody.
"I still don't know if it's the right decision," says Murphy. "I felt like it was the right decision for the moment and you only have that. And I'm OK with that. I regret it sometimes. I don't know if I regret it, but I'm sad sometimes. I'm like, 'Oh, it would be fun to play with those guys.' Or I see a band that stinks and I'm like, 'Let's go wipe them off, stop them from playing.'"
The movie is an occasion not only to lead new ears to LCD Soundsystem and let their fans relive a concert that seemed to define an era of New York music, but a chance to unpack LCD Soundsystem — an alternatively ironic and sincere groove-based outfit that made cerebral electronic dance music with pristine production and propulsive rhythms.
"We did a bunch of things that I'm only figuring out now," Murphy says. "We were cooler than I thought we were. But we didn't rest on it because I didn't think we were cool. So I don't feel like we sold out too bad."
In a recent interview at his newly purchased Williamsburg loft, Murphy, a kickboxing enthusiast, had the restlessness of a fighter without a bout on the horizon. "I'm not retired," he says, feigning a golf swing. But a kind of post-LCD limbo has taken hold. Recalling the day's decisions, he says, "I forgot to eat. Should I make a juice or should I fry an egg? I don't have eggs. Should I rent a Zip car?"
"That's kind of what's going on now," says Murphy, laughing.
The thinly-bearded, outwardly-placid 42-year-old's colorful conversation often resembles his lyrics: layers of self-deprecation, self-aware analysis and musical references that dot from Harry Nilsson to the Smiths to OutKast.