Greetings again from the darkness. By definition, documentaries tell us the story of something that has already happened. The best ones expose a great story, and it usually boils down to how interesting we find the subject. The Canadian Punk duo Death From Above 1979 has a history that is both entertaining and a bit unusual – even within the music industry.
Between 2001 and 2005, the band performed 546 live shows around the world. And then it was over. Bandmates Sebastien Grainger (drums and vocals) and Jesse F Keeler (bass, keyboard, backing vocals) melded their creative flow into an incredibly energetic live experience. They were in perfect sync onstage, and audiences responded.
Filmmaker Eva Michon (Grainger’s wife) provides us with interviews from music executives, members of other rock bands, and especially Grainger and Keeler. We learn of their influence, and also witness their conflicting insecurities and musical confidence.
Their first full album “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine” sold 100,000 units in 2004, but the follow-up “The Physical World” wouldn’t be released for a decade. The reason for the delay is the crux of this band’s story … they broke up! It seems clear the two band members grew apart creatively, causing a crack in the friendship. They quit speaking, even while on tour. In 2005, they were opening for Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden, and a few weeks later they went their own separate ways.
Grainger finally reached out to Keeler in 2011, and the band reunited with an invitation to play famed music festival Coachella. A surprise show at SXSW in Austin was shut down by the cops after the crowd spun out of control. The video here is the best we see, and certainly more exciting than the actual footage from Coachella.
The reunion just doesn’t play well on screen, and it robs the film of it’s core moment. The interviews are insightful and the photos and early footage are excellent. All that’s lacking is a wow moment. Still, fans of the band will be all over this, while those unfamiliar will find it interesting enough.
watch the trailer: