How do you determine the size of a bang?
Do you judge it by its initial strike? By its immediate attention?
The size of a bang isn’t decided by the bang itself. It is decided by its echo.
LCD Soundsystem has created one of the biggest echoes in worthwhile, cult-followed contemporary music. As if mirroring the sequence of their individual songs, with each album, LCD Soundsystem’s impact built up and triggered a complete need in their fans. There’s the start; anticipation emphasized by foot tapping and bouncing; the hit of climax.. and POW POW instantaneous loss of control. As happens with every LCD song, listeners went full on I-don’t-care-what-you-think crazy by the explosion: this was happening.
But LCD Soundsystem did not lose control. They respectably chose to give it away while they were ahead— to the kids with impeccable taste trading in guitars for turntables. LCD Soundsystem’s climax was their end, marked by “the best funeral ever.”
Madison Square Garden.
Lasting three and a half hours, the show I wish I had the pleasure of attending most is being released with LCD Soundsystem’s biggest echo— their obituary documentary, “Shut Up and Play the Hits.”
It’s a chance for us all to relive their death and, respectively, their big bang. The documentary itself will cause you to fall in love with James Murphy and the small moments that represent the love buried in LCD Soundsystem. The film primarily focuses on James, but watching his connections with the band, I could see exactly why each member was so important. It isn’t all about James (even though directly, it is).
The sound in the movie is crisp and clean; it consumes you, thanks to James who mixed and edited it for the film. It was confusing- sitting quiet in a theater surrounded by a crowd, the sound, and the visuals of LCD Soundsystem. I almost felt rude- and definitely inhibited- by not singing and dancing. James almost made me believe I was there. Almost. I was there…but really, I wasn’t.
It’s a great gravestone. But their overall obituary is still being written, and the crying boy is probably still crying (on the inside, at least). The fans haven’t shut up, and the hits are still being played through nostalgic speakers.
It’s all flickers after fire. After their final concert came the one-night-only showing of “Shut Up and Play the Hits,” came the countless articles, came the gifs and fan-made posters, came the iTunes release earlier this week (thank God), will come the DVD release and bonus material October 9th. Like a musician storming off and throwing down the mic, the echo is far from silent— even though it’s been two years since the final show.
The scenes in “Shut Up and Play the Hits” weave in and out of their absolute party at Madison Square Garden, James Murphy’s interview with the equally pretentious yet brilliant Chuck Klosterman (hey, it makes for great footage), and moments of James’ new life— taking out his French bulldog whilst in a dress shirt and pajama pants… making coffee…shaving his face…looking bewildered by the sudden insanity of being normal.
But James Murphy will never truly be normal.
What makes an artist great isn’t simply their product. And once a product is completed, their work is not finished. Instead it lingers on with its effects, and that is the only true way to analyze its importance.
And even though LCD Soundsystem’s musical career has ceased, the embers still flicker.
The effects of LCD Soundsystem go past their music, or their documentary, or their story— though these things are all imperative to their worth. Their relevance will never die because their sound was modernly reminiscent, their lyrics were timelessly significant with wit and wisdom, and their works never trailed off into destruction. They were good throughout their existence, and then they stopped. So they will always be good. The world of pop culture and music is always being trumped by newer ideas from younger generations. James recognized this, but refused to let his ideas or work become dated.
Instead, he chose to sit back with his French bulldog and live on in glorified remembrance.
LCD Soundsystem fans are saved for the moment— “Shut Up And Play The Hits” is still sounding its echo, and we’re still lingering in awe of the bang’s aftermath. But someone great is gone, and the world somehow keeps spinning with lovely weather, coffee that isn’t bitter, and new ideas.
It’s a strange ending, but the echo keeps on.
…And it keeps coming till the day it stops.
Amy Anderson is a Magazine Journalism major at University of Georgia. She enjoys reviewing music and film of all kinds, and hopes to add more to the experience of listening or watching by adding critical perspective and showing various sides to works that audiences love (or hate, or feel indifferent towards). As well, when writing features, she strives to offer a glimpse into the artist’s creative process or ideology through engaging stories or thoughts. Her goal is to offer audiences unseen insight on creative works while opening eyes to worthwhile music and art. Amy's current five favorite musicians— though it’s always in rotation— are Andrew Bird, Beirut, Björk, John Maus, and Milosh. Her "guilty" pleasure is Robyn— if you don’t like her, you’re probably just pretending.