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Friday Rockumentary

Posted by bmac on February 29, 2008

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.

10 Responses to “Friday Rockumentary”

  1. Enas Yorl said

    Doors tribute band “Peace Frog” is playing at the Cannery this weekend. $5 bucks at the door! I saw them many years ago (’91 or ’92) at the UNLV student union and they were pretty good. The singer has the Jim Morrison look down too. I’m kinda surprised they are still doing it though.

    I’m not really a Kiss fan, but I’d love to see MiniKiss some time.

  2. bmac said

    I used to be in an original band with a couple of guys in a local Beatles tribute. I don’t want to post their name here, but they used to play at Boulder Station all the time. They’ve been doing it going on 15 years.

    The best tribute band ever?
    Dread Zeppelin. A MUST SEE.

    They do Zeppelin songs in a reggae style, with an Elvis impersonator singing.

  3. Enas Yorl said

    When I was in Jr. High Beatlemania came to our school one time. And an Abraham Lincoln impersonator too. (No, not at the same time). He was cool. He played the banjo and made fun of rock music.

    Dread Zepp – I’ve heard of them. They’ve been around a long time too.

  4. We had a Beatles tribute band here a few months ago…no I didn’t go. I actually added this to a post I did of links around the moronosphere. Rockumentary type things aren’t normally my cup of tea, but I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of one on tribute bands. Its something very different.

  5. S. Weasel said

    So, were there actually 19 other bmac’s on WordPress before you?

  6. bmac said

    Yes, but this is the best damn bmac tribute blog there is.

    *hoping that was the joke*

  7. S. Weasel said

    Well, it’s a joke.

    Me, I was only wondering why you elected to go with bmac20 when, in fact, bmac.wordpress.com is free.

    But, hey — 20 is your own business. Don’t let me poke my nose into 20s where it don’t belong.

  8. bmac said

    I must have done something retarded when I set it up, cause I couldn’t set it up that way. I’m kind of a computer idiot.

    Can I change it?

  9. Michael said

    No, you can’t change it.

  10. bmac said

    Well, what I was going for was bmac2.0 because I had a blog on blogspot, and I thought that was really clever or something.

    But I’m cool with bmac20.

    Weasel’s joke went right over my head, because I never thought of it as 20.

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