Saturday, October 15, 2005

Every Saturday Should Be a Holiday

And yet here I sit at work. BUT, I get to tell you all about this movie I saw last night. It's this little documentary from last year called DiG!. I was actually pointed to this movie by reading this week's Gilmore Girls recap on TWoP. This is the kind of roundabout way that I've been increasingly finding movies, music, and books lately. Read a reference here, a recommendation by a friend of a friend of a web columnist there. It's random but it works out.

Anyway, DiG! (yes, the capitalizations and punctuation are wholly intentional and pretty annoying) is a doc that tracks the rise, fall, and feud of post-grunge indie bands The Dandy Warhols (who I had heard of, but not listened to prior to the movie) and the Brian Jonestown Massacre (who I had not heard of at all). It's a fascinating movie, even if the protagonists – Dandy's front man Courtney Taylor and BJM demigod Anton Newcombe – are self-absorbed, pretentious egotistical fucks. It's actually the first rock documentary that actively repulsed me on the subject of being a rock star. Not if I have to hang with people like this. Newcombe is especially insufferable, as he's this unholy combination of needy, crazy, junkie, contrarian, painfully self-aware indie "purist, and hyper-aggressive antagonist. He's endlessly compelling, as he brawls with his band and fans at numerous sparsely-attended shows, but not even a bit likeable. Taylor, for his part, is haughty about his place in the music industry and all, but at least he shows an appreciation for being able to perform his music in front of big festival crowds and such.

So the two front men craft this big ol' feud between the two bands – the hopelessly dysfunctional BJM and the "sellout" Dandies. The problem is, almost nobody in the States knows who they are, so it's an even lamer feud than the Oasis-Blur tiff that they're emulating. The high point of absurdity hits when Taylor has to basically explain the feud to a European reporter who totally doesn't know or care who the Brian Jonestown Massacre are.

One thing about the movie: even though Anton is portrayed the way he is, the big common thread in the film is what an authentic and genius musician he is. That even as he's being so petulant about the Dandies, they all agree that he's making these awesome records. And I just don't see it. It's unremarkable to my ear, not that my ear is anything to go by. By that same token, I really liked hearing the Dandies' stuff, and it's interesting to me that they're portrayed as the "lesser" band, artistically.

It just underlines the fact that I have no business being a rock critic, not that I would want to be. I don't consume music like I consume movies, or TV, or sports, or even books. I don't understand it on too deep a level. With music, I knows what I likes, and it rarely goes deeper than that. My taste in music could quite objectively be described as "awful," but it works for me, so I don't much care if it's lame or whatever. My iTunes list is some unholy amalgam of 80s and 90s pop, post-grunge alternative, girl singers by the truckload, hits skimmed from a variety of "important" bands, TV theme songs, songs I liked from movie trailers and TV shows, and hordes of tunes by Tori Amos and the Lowest of the Low. And, again, it works for me, so I don't really feel all that ashamed about it.

But after seeing DiG!, I sampled a good bit of Dandy Warhols songs off iTunes, and I really, really like them. And I don't know if that's a cool thing to do or not, these days, to like the Dandy Warhols. Considering the two songs I like best by them were made familiar to me by commercials ("Bohemian Like You" – if you don't think you've heard it, you have) and the Sideways trailer ("Every Day Should Be a Holiday"), I'm thinking it's probably not all that cool. Like how nobody could be cool and like Moby because his songs were in Microsoft commercials or something. But, again, I knows what I likes, and I likes this stuff. And, hey, any band that can sing the theme songs to both Undeclared AND Veronica Mars is okay by me.

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