Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who wants to see a concert movie? Anyone?

As recently as college, I would pick up concert movies from my favorite bands. The process was always the same--I'd read about it online, eagerly await its release date, pick it up, watch it on my laptop and then let it collect dust for the next several years. Unless I was playing it in the video store where I worked, which was the perfect way to watch a concert movie (in the background, where you could tune in for the best parts), I rarely took them out of their cases. I eventually stopped buying them, and even stopped buying deluxe CD editions that came with them. I'll just save five bucks and only get the disc I'll play more than once, thank you.

This summer two of my all-time favorite acts are releasing concert movies. I can't pretend that I don't get excited by the trailers--even with the lame voice-over narration and rock radio ubiquity, "Enter Sandman" and "Paradise City" are absolutely thrilling from the stage. Maybe they'll be fun to see in the theater with a few drinks and friends, and they'll probably be cool for Metallica and Guns N' Roses fans whom have somehow never seen them in concert. But who are these movies for, really? Film buffs will prefer more plot-driven art, like Some Kind of Monster or Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Music fans will spend more time with the albums and spend more money on the actual shows. I can't imagine a lot of people watching either of these films more than one.

And why would they? What, besides air conditioning, is someone who loves both of these bands enough to catch them on the tours that they filmed for these movies going to get out of seeing them in a theater? Who, short of Martin Scorsese in The Last Waltz and Shine a Light, can pull one of these off? The subplot in Metallica: Through the Never makes me wish that they'd just stuck to the concert. The straightforward recording of a Las Vegas GNR show makes me wish that they'd added something more--maybe a band documentary, like the one in Iron Maiden: Flight 666. These both look like electrifying shows, but anyone who's seen Metallica or Guns N' Roses in the flesh will tell you that a taped performance is no substitute for the real thing.

As a huge fan of these songs and their performers, I will surely end up seeing both of these movies. I will almost certainly enjoy them both. But I can't imagine that either of them will add much to their band's legacy.


M said...

yeah, I don't think I'm a fan of these kinds of movies. I love a band doco but a straight concert video - not unless you live in a remote area or are ever likely to see them.. in fact not even then. I think they are geared towards really hardcore collectors who will buy anything just to have it in their collection.

Ben Apatoff said...

Agreed. Especially now that anyone can see what a band's show looks like on YouTube, concert movies just feel like an easy way to make a buck off the completists.