Shut up and play the hits: Concert movies you’ll want to turn up to 11
Rejoice, music lover! Will Lovelace & Dylan Southern’s spectacular documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits is available to stream on Hulu. The 2012 film is a concert movie at its very best, following LCD Soundsystem and its charismatic frontman James Murphy during a 48-hour period as the band prepares for and plays their final concert at Madison Square Garden.
Shut Up and Play the Hits demands to be enjoyed at full volume, and like all the best concert movies of all time, offers captivating insights about life, fame, and music beyond the constraints of the stage. In celebration of this awesome movie, we’re looking back at ten other concert movies worth a watch.
Stop Making Sense (1984)
Jonathan Demme’s groundbreaking film shows an iconic and irreverent band at the very peak of their career. Shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983, the movie offers a frenetic performance from legendary art-rock band Talking Heads alongside an intimate exploration of musicianship.
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
Chronicling Madonna’s controversial Blonde Ambition tour, the film explores pop music as a strangely defiant act while providing behind-the-scenes footage of the star and her team. The film is renowned for its intimacy, but Truth or Dare is also packed with iconic and boundary-pushing live performances (including the unforgettable moment Madonna simulates masturbation live on stage and is almost arrested for it).
The Last Waltz (1978)
Martin Scorsese‘s feature centers around the legendary 1976 farewell performance of The Band and is non-stop with jaw-dropping performances from musicians including Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Young, and Emmylou Harris.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2005)
Bringing the music to the people, Michel Gondry’s documentary sees Dave Chappelle basically putting on his dream concert in Brooklyn, New York. Part comedy and part concert movie, Chapelle hands out lucrative gold tickets like Willy Wonka for the event, which feels like a supreme celebration of the audiences as much as it is of the music.
Kanye West, The Fugees, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, and Dead Prez are among some of the huge names who perform.
Michael Wadleigh’s documentary about one of the most defining counter-cultural events in North American history is still nothing short of astonishing.
Legendary performances from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane are interspersed with idiosyncratic scenes like an unexpected air-delivery of food and medical supplies and stunning interviews with some seriously blissed out hippies.
Awesome: I F***in’ Shot That! (2006)
Predating the era of YouTube where just about any and every modern live performance has a shaky fan-made video you can now find online, this Beastie Boys concert movie was made by fifty of the band’s fans. Capturing the energy of a sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden from a number of different perspectives, Adam Yauch‘s film is a little rough around the edges, but that’s what makes it irresistibly authentic.
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Taking place just four months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones played an ill-fated free concert at Altamont Speedway in 1969. Hired by the group as security, Hells Angels clashed with the love generation members of the audience. The movie offers a disquieting glimpse at a harrowing event that ended in unfathomable violence, murder, and chaos.
This film centers around David Bowie’s legendary final performance as persona Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon. While there is some behind-the-scenes footage, the main focus of the film remains on the breathless, captivating action of the stage and the supreme theatrical marvel of Bowie and his band.
The Sigur Ros film by Dean DeBlois offers a gentle but fascinating glimpse at the Icelandic avant-rock band as they return home to play a series of powerful, impromptu concerts. The movie is full of charm and wonder without delving too far from the stage.
Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (1967)
Bob Dylan might be considered something of a genius, but as Don’t Look Back proved, he can also be one helluva cantankerous brute when he wants to be. However, that’s also part of the appeal of the folk troubadour.
D.A. Pennebaker’s film chronicles various Dylan live shows while also showcasing some enthralling behind-the-scenes footage in which the musician regularly goes off about an assortment of issues. It’s perfection.