Tag: James Murphy
Last night was the premiere/farewell showing of the documentary following LCD Soundsystem‘s final show last April at Madison Square Garden. I attended the 3-set, 4-hour marathon performance last year and still get goose-bumps recalling the dance party, the bittersweet pleasure permeating the arena, and the magical sense of knowing I was taking part in a piece of modern musical history. What a bummer that this movie didn’t resurrect those sensations for me – yep, on a scale of 1-10, ranking it with other great concert films, I give it a 5.8.
First off, the concert footage is amazing. The elevated camera angles, the close-ups, and the shared glimpses of momentary wonder from band members are amazing. As is the sound mix. But the emotion is so blatant pouring off of everyone on the stage that the rest of the movie’s non-stage shots fail to live up to its level of compassion. Surely once the full concert is released on DVD along with this doc, the actual concert film will receive exponentially more viewings than its art-house sibling.
It seems like all the right footage is there – following James Murphy around the day before and after the show, and having crucial interview questions from the amazing Chuck Klosterman interspersed defines the whole movie. The thing is that Murphy doesn’t really have the magical, self-defining answers himself to put the whole thing into the necessary perspective we’re all looking for. The dichotomous existence between his rock-star self and the normal dude he strives to be is questioned but never really understood. And what sucks is that it seems if presented from the right perspective all those answers and the clear storyline are there. But instead, the movie tries to crawl into James Murphy’s brain, which at the time of filming was incredibly confused and lost. Thus the film itself tends to get jumbled in obscure transitions from the stage to Murphy’s apartment. The result is that you begin to feel just as uncertain about what’s actually happening as Murphy is, and while it’s a great act of imposing empathy on the viewer, I think it would have been a lot more interesting to really try to define the story from an outsider’s perspective. Essentially, they should have just let Klosterman produce the film.
The most compelling part of the film comes when Klosterman asks Murphy what he believes his greatest failure to be, as Klosterman claims it is an act’s greatest failure that truly defines them. Murphy is quick to reply that potentially quitting will be his biggest failure, while Chuck quickly jumps back at him saying, “No, I think your ability to stop being self-conscious of yourself is your biggest failure.” And he’s exactly right…music, and rock music, and dance music is all about existing in the moment. Sure, some fabulous things have happened from some incredibly intelligent rock stars making some brash decisions about their existence, but real passionate music comes from a place where you don’t give a fuck how history and the media sees you. It’s almost like James Murphy was so concerned about doing things the ‘right’ and the ‘righteous’ way that the very act of concern stopped being the ‘right’ and ‘righteous’ thing to do. I think the movie could have benefited hugely by including a couple brief fan interviews and quotes. For a band that was always about the intertwined unity and experience of itself and its fans, the movie is far too strictly presented from the top down. So it gives you a great sense of the sorrow and confusion ripping through Murphy, but it give little sense of the all-out wonder which the concert itself was. Perhaps the music so speaks for itself that we’ll have to wait for the full concert release for that wonder to be seen. Literally at times you want to scream “Shut Up and Play the Hits” at the screen, but unfortunately that’s not what the film is about. I suppose it is a great portrait of one man’s inability to live in the present, and his obsession with how the future will look back at him. However, a good concert film it is not. Still, it should be required viewing for anyone and everyone even slightly involved with the music business today, but wait until the full concert is released before you schedule any martini fueled dance-party viewing sessions.
Here’s the link to my full review of the concert from last year:
Here’s the preview:
It always seems weird when artists make songs as parts of projects for large companies, but there seems to be a different edge whenever sneakers are involved. I guess people can just really get behind shit they put on their feet – regardless of what sweat-shops they may arise from. James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem made the brilliant album, 45:33 for Nike in 2007. There was that uber-dreamy ad/song that Karen O and Spike Jonze did for Adidas in 2006. And now Converse joins the cool-kids team by presenting this new 3 artists/1 song collaboration. James Murphy returns to a new sneaker squad here – providing vocals on this new Gorillaz track that also has Outkast’s Andre 3000 throwing in a verse or two. It’s a ridiculously impressive lineup actually – people are always waiting on the next Gorillaz track, people have been waiting years for the next Outkast album, and everybody’s clambering to get their hands on whatever Murphy is going to do post-LCD. Released today, “Do Ya Thing” is great but holds very litter surprises. There’s a weird off-kilter hip-funk that permeates all three of these artists and their collaboration feels incredibly natural – so natural in fact, that if you didn’t know who it was you’d probably describe it as a “Gorillaz-type song with a dude singing like James Murphy and a guy rapping like Andre 3000.” I mean, I guess that’s what you want right? It’s not like anybody expected the track to be an instrumental 3-piece on vibraphones or anything – I just wanted a little bit more. The highlight is definitely the outro, where the hilariously poignant line is repeated ad nauseam; “Can we get an Outkast album now?” Seriously though – maybe have Murphy or Damon Albarn produce it – shit would be hot! There is a video for this tune coming out next week as well as an extended 12 minute cut, so maybe the surprises are yet to come. And of course it is fantastic that Murphy’s alter ego in the Gorillaz universe seems to be a karate bamboon – I’m not sure why, but it makes complete sense. Check out a youtube of the song below or download it free HERE. And here’s that sweet Adidas ad if you forgot how fucking awesome it is.
UPDATE: 2.29.12 The official video has been released, and while it is epically cool, it’s still missing everything that makes the extended track so hot. But yeah, dig it – computer animation for raging party folk.
So 4 months ago, LCD Soundsystem came nowhere near close to selling out Memorial Auditorium here in Burlington, Vermont. I think their total tickets sales were around 2800 if I heard correctly. Thus, fans and the band alike were ridiculously surprised when their April 2 farewell show at MSG sold out in mere milliseconds the other day. Not to be put down by scalpers who have for some reason taken their last show as to be the first show they’d ever pay attention to, James Murphy wrote a brilliant post on the band’s site that is totally worth checking out: http://lcdsoundsystem.com/main/
To sum it up, they’re playing a few shows at Terminal 5 leading up to the MSG to make sure everybody gets to see at least one sans scalp, and Murphy’s honest concern for the whole debacle only confirm his position as one of my honest-to-goodness living heroes. His ending comments:
i just want to give people who actually want to see us a chance to see us. for a reasonable ticket price. and i want to drop the price of the msg tickets being sold by piece of shit scalpers.
oh—and a small thing to scalpers: “it’s legal” is what people say when they don’t have ethics. the law is there to set the limit of what is punishable (aka where the state needs to intervene) but we are supposed to have ethics, and that should be the primary guiding force in our actions, you fucking fuck.
and to everyone else: thank you. you rule. don’t let the shitbags win.
i feel like conan o’brien.
The biggest musical news this past weekend other than 2 billion people witnessing how ridiculously awful the Black Eyed Peas have become, is that James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem have officially announced their last show. With Murphy last Spring stating that 2010′s This is Happening would be the final album under the LCD moniker, many hip cats like myself made concentrated efforts to catch the last of the live fire of an LCD show. My cross-nation track to Coachella was far more handsomely rewarded by other bands there than LCD and their lackluster drunken performance. My daunting escapade into all thing I fear at Camp Bisco was far more worth the trouble. The band throwing down in Burlington, Vermont at Memorial Auditorium was an uber-epic-pantsdrop evening.
Yet one last show by no means makes me regret the effort I put into last year’s voyages – rather, I can’t wait to have one of the musical nights of my life April 2 at Madison Square Garden. Announced on the band’s website, they mention 3 hours of friends, covers, and never-before-played songs, and most importantly state: “If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever!!!” Nuff’ said. If you leave within a 500 mile radius of New York City, the words “be there or be square” have never held more truth.