Regular readers of this blog know I love Roc Docs. I like to feature them here occasionally for a little fun, so this time I give you: “Tribute-A Rockumentary.”
Produced by Steven Soderbergh, this is a doc about tribute bands. I’ve seen it several times on the Sundance Channel, but to my knowledge, it’s totally unavailable. The official website has removed the trailer for “legal reasons” so I’m guessing there’s some kind of licensing problem with the music. The website hasn’t been updated in forever, so it’s kind of a mystery why this movie is in limbo, but if you get Sundance, keep an eye out for it, it runs occasionally. The website has some clips, but they’re not great, just kind of random with no explanation.
The film follows four tribute bands, a Kiss, a Queen, a Judas Priest, and a Monkees. Generally, the tribute band is the last refuge of aging never-were’s who just can’t quit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it can be kind of sad, as we see in this movie as some of these guys (most in their late 30′ and 40’s) hold on to the false hope that they might get to be a replacement for the real thing in the real band they’re aping, ala Ripper Owens who was called to join Judas Priest. The movie “Rock Star” was based on his story.
The tribute band thing is kind of weird to me, but I can understand the allure. You can be a nobody and have an instant following of rabid fans. No worries about writing songs or building an audience. In a way, it’s like cheating. You get the benefits of somebody else’s work. Some of these guys get so far into the fantasy they actually begin to believe they are the guy they’re portraying, which is what happened to one of the guys in the film. He was “Gene Simmons” and ended up having a nervous breakdown as a result of starting to think he really was Gene Simmons.
That’s him in the picture above, before the breakdown. His replacement doesn’t fare much better, a guy who’s obviously got issues, and sees playing Gene as a way to feel like he’s important, after being abused as a child, and having some kind of addiction problem.
There’s also some obsessed fans featured that are just too…..strange to even explain.
Much of this film is almost painful to watch, it’s a strange little sub-culture of obsessive fanbois, washed up almost were’s, nerdy wannabes, and guys struggling with their dreams of stardom in their own right, fading away.
Great stuff, try to see it if you can, but it probably won’t be easy.