Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the day: The greatest of all art forms

"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." Oscar Wilde

Saturday, August 20, 2011

All Foo, no poo.

Foo Fighters Back and Forth: the documentary

For every rock tragic the documentary of a band’s history is about as good as it gets. After all, it’s all about the music, man.

To plagiarise directly from the synopsis, Back and Forth chronicles the 16 year history of the Foo Fighters; a group that started literally as a one-man-band and developed into one of the biggest present-day rock acts around. After watching Back and Forth a few times (ok about 10) I’m happy to report this is not one of those bullshit music docos where it’s all about blowing smoke up the band’s collective asses. It’s pretty honest and handles a few touchy subjects including the sacking of several band members and the overdose of drummer Taylor Hawkins in 2001. It’s so honest that Taylor was actually told NME Magazine he’d rather it wasn’t released:

“I wish we wouldn't put the fucking movie out to be honest because I'm not really comfortable with the public sort of openness…

"We almost broke up and I almost died and all those crazy things have happened. And that's what people want. If they're gonna watch a fucking movie about you they don’t just want some guys sitting around and going, 'Ooh, it was really great and then we were all so happy… that would be boring and unrealistic."

Amen brother. That’s exactly why this documentary is worth a look, not just for Foo Fighters fans, but music fans in general.

Back and Forth begins with the man who started it all: Dave Grohl. His brief story about dreaming of being a rock star is relatable and approachable, and this frankness continues throughout.  

I knew, from the countless interviews, music videos and concerts I’ve watched, that Grohl has a wicked sense of humour and no-bullshit approach, but the big surprise from Back and Forth for me was guitarist Pat Smear. He was funny, light and self-deprecating – not at all what I expected from an underground punk-rock legend. Also, most people wouldn’t be aware he was the second guitarist for Nirvana in the last few years of the band’s career. His insights about this time were honest and a little sad.

Back and Forth spends an appropriate amount of time on the Nirvana/Kurt Cobain story, as it laid the foundations for some of what followed with the Foo Fighters. The first album Grohl recorded included songs he’d written during his time with Nirvana. The recording of this first cassette tape (yep – remember those kids?) was his effort to get out of the funk he was in for months after Cobain’s death. 

What kept me glued to Back and Forth was not just the history of a band that’s one of my favourites, but *shock horror* these guys actually talked about how they felt over the years. Not too much about private life stuff either. It’s not like an ENews special, just the music and their lives around it. As curious as I am about Grohl’s life, I don’t care that much. As a fan, I want to hear about the music and that’s what Back and Forth is all about. 

I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow. If you’re a Foo Fighters fan or just a music fan then watch it. You won’t be disappointed – it’s part history and part behind the scenes of recording their latest album Wasting Light.

Are you a rock tragic? Is there a band you love and want to see ‘immortalised’ by a documentary? Or do you already have a favourite music doco?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gig Guide: Music soothes the savage beast

This past weekend was the very awesome Splendour in the Grass festival in my old stomping grounds of Queensland. Since I no longer live in the Sunshine State and also did not possess eighty five million dollars to afford tickets to go to the festival, I have been partaking in a number of sideshows the bands have been kindly doing throughout the rest of Australia. Last week it was The Kills (Alison Mosshart, my girl crush on you remains strong) and this week I'm off to see my old faves Gomez.

Growing up in a small town in QLD didn't really give me many opportunities to see live music. Or have good taste in music really. In fact until I was 13 and discovered Triple J, my shameful musical jaunts included a John Farnham concert with my Mum (I'm still scarred for life at the ladies throwing underpants at him), and a teeny-boppery outing to see Aussie one hit wonder girl-band Girlfriend.

But in the last 10 years I have managed to see a number of very cool bands, and have used my increasingly useful barge-arse skills to gain prime front-of-stage positions at festivals and gigs alike. My default New Year's resolution is to see as many bands as I possibly can.

These are just a few of my memorable gigs:

Muse - Livid Festival 2000

One of many times I've seen Muse live, cough seven times, this one holds a special place mostly because it was the first time I saw them. At this stage they were a fairly unknown group touring on their first album, playing a side stage at the now defunct Livid Festival, while bigger groups Green Day and No Doubt had the masses gathered around the main stages. And while I've seen them play much bigger and better - even with their rather pretentious last couple of albums - Muse sure have always known how to put on a show.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - 2011

Yeah, so I'm fairly certain I somehow joined a cult after seeing this gig. Lead vocalist Alex (he of the Charles Manson slash Jesus looks) came down into the crowd during the encore and then got half the audience on the stage and the rest of us sitting on the floor while he led us all in a Kumbaya styled rendition of one of their songs. Afterwards when everyone was going up to give him high-fives and hugs, I found myself going forward as well until I realised that I wasn't actually at a cultist revival meeting.

The Swell Season - 2009

What a voice Glen Hansard has!! A big fan of The Swell Season after watching the movie Once, I was blown away by their live concert. When there is just a man and his guitar (with no amplification) filling a huge cavernous theatre with his big voice on the song Say It to Me Now, it's simply something special to behold.

The Dead Weather - 2010

My one and only chance to see the legend of Jack White in concert (sob, I never got to see The White Stripes). Coupled with the mesmerising Alison Mosshart, these two just oozed charisma and awesomeness.

Reading Festival - 2006

My big festival outing while I lived in the UK, memorable for a number of reasons:  
  • Another Muse show under my belt
  • The beginning of my love affair with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O, with her knee high converse sneakers with flames going up the sides, OWNED that stage)
  • Almost dying of claustrophobia in a very enthusiastic Arctic Monkeys crowd (who scarily knew every single word to ALL of their songs)
  • A full can of something indeterminable being thrown at my head (I choose to remember it as being beer).

How about the rest of you? What have been some of your favourite live music experiences?