(Cinema Diablo/Acetate Records/MVD)
By Craig Regala
“Part concert film.” Yeah, of a buncha bands who never were or will never be. Not to say there isn’t a decent song or two, but the form of basic glam rock/punk IDed rock and roll takes off and gets about as far as the first couple Joan Jett records crossed into the lack-luster gunk Social Distortion passes off as “roots punk.” As the guy in the Hangmen sez, “Yeah, it’s like we did all the dumb things you see on Behind The Music, without the fame part.” You get to see bands playing to the same couple hundred people they’ve been playing to for the last decade, and Jesus, you get the feeling these folks are showin’ up ’cause they don’t have cable.
Bands play and you watch. Those bands are: The Superbees, The Hangmen, Pygmy Love Circus, Throwrag, Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones, Motochrist, Dragbeat, Extra Fancy, Bubble, The Newlydeads, Coyote Shivers, Lo-Ball, Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, and Man Scouts Of America, the lone East Coast entry. The film is about the stuff PJ Wolf, writer, director, producer, and editor, digs and interacts with in the dirty (laundry) side of Hollywood.
The documentary section is the sole reason to watch this thing. The interviews and behind the (non)scene stuff is a good look at what it actually is, similar to The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years. The pacing is good and the interviews are telling and straight up. The singer in Pygmy Love Circus states, “The reason I used to give Axl Rose shit was because G’N’R were the top of the heap, and I was part of the bum rush below.”
A few bands go back to Hollywood’s jazz/blues/country-inflected drunkard/loser mystique, like Phast Phreddie, The Blasters, Long Riders, Green on Red, X and Dream Syndicate did. ThrowRag’s use of rockasurfabilly avoids any pretensions to “authenticity,” and Dragbeat’s strip joint ’50s R&B rock and stroll has a nice feel, but they’re both so self-conscious that it’s hard to imagine them working up much steam without stupendous songs which, alas, have eluded them both. A good look into the contemporary bar band reality.