Sunday, July 31, 2016

Overachievers of rock

 This just in: Buzz Osborne is super nice and I am super lucky to have said hi to him

I swear to fuck I'm going to post that photo every time it seems even slightly relevant. Which has been at least six times already. Because I'm a huge irretrievable fangirl. Which is probably why I'm one of a couple hundred people in the Los Angeles area who went to watch a documentary about The Melvins last week.

Every time I talk to someone about The Melvins I hear "you know, I think I've heard of them but I don't know any of their songs," or "fuck those guys" or "OH MY FUCKING GOD I LOVE THE MELVINS." Those are the only reactions. No others. And the first reaction is the most common and was my position about a year ago. I'm not sure what switched flipped or exactly when it flipped for me but at least by last October I was tormented by the fact that driving to Sacramento to see Faith No More meant I had to miss The Melvins Lite at the Echo. They played the Troubador a few months ago and I couldn't afford tickets. And then Songkick (an indispensable tool if you're a fan of weird or semi-obscure bands that don't have massive tour announcements everywhere like some bands I know *cough*GNR*cough*) told me there was a Melvins show at the Regent Theater for $25. I bought a ticket without even reading what it was really about. I didn't know there was a movie involved until a week before the day of the show.

And it was really more about the movie than the set (which is slightly heartbreaking). The evening opened with an appetizer of The Melvins self-made tour documentary, followed by an amazing half-hour set, then came The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale; a Kickstarter-funded documentary about the long history and general adventures of a band that nobody's heard of who are largely responsible for the current rock landscape. We finished with a short Q&A and were released back onto the streets shellshocked and ready to rock.

The documentary is fantastically well made, let's start with that. The interviews are all a fantastic example of what to do well when you're trying to put together a narrative, the archive footage of the band is visceral and evocative, and the interactions with Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover (which are so long and involved that I can't really call them interviews) are a fascinating look at two people who may be among the hardest workers the music industry has ever seen. Pacing is a large part of what makes this film work, which is important since the movie has the audacity to try to break a thirty year history down into bite-sized chunks. I do think that it is perhaps a bit too long - I can't find the runtime anywhere online but I get the feeling that trimming 15 minutes would make it infinitely more watchable. The music is, of course, great.

Since this movie has JUST been released, and is in extremely limited release, I'd recommend that you try to go see the damned thing instead of reading reviews about it but I understand that it probably just won't be possible for a lot of people. Hopefully there will be DVDs and such available soon, and I wouldn't be surprised if it started showing up in music history class syllabi in a couple of years. It feels very important while never taking itself too seriously - just like The Melvins themselves.

     - Alli

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