‘Murder in the Front Row’: An interview with director Adam Dubin

When Adam Dubin set out to film Murder in the Front Row, a documentary about the beginnings of the Bay Area thrash metal scene, it wasn’t supposed to be through the eyes of a musicologist &mdsah; which he admits he is not. “I’m interested in how people felt,” Dubin says. “What was going on at the time and what people were responding to — the musicians themselves and their fans.” Dubin — well-known director of many Beastie Boys music videos, including the hilarious “Fight for your Right” — had worked with Metallica for over 25 years before he approached them [...]

Meet Brijean, the beatmaker behind your favorite local bands

Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart (all photos: Jon Bauer) “Should I smile?” she asks the photographer. Brijean is wearing a green and blue floral blouse with track pants, platform sneakers, rose-tinted glasses — a fittingly unique outfit. She leans over her congas and looks at Doug. The camera clicks again, again. “Is this your first interview?” I ask the Brijean Band, the musical duo of Oakland-based percussionist Brijean Murphy (Toro y Moi, Poolside, U.S. Girls) and her partner, producer and multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart (Bells Atlas, Meernaa). They tell me that it is, and I tell them that I’m honored. Their [...]

By |June 26, 2019|Tags: |

Review: Daniel Johnston at the Herbst Theater

Since the moment I first listened to Daniel Johnston, I was devoted, because the ache in his voice made it obvious that this wasn’t a choice. For him creating was a necessity and continues to be. I don’t care how good of a musician you are if it’s not made out of necessity. I don’t care if your guitar or your voice or anything you touch is out of tune if I can tell the music is made because you need it. I am obsessed with those that create out of necessity. A good album is good even if recorded [...]

By |November 10, 2017|Tags: |

Noise Pop Films: ‘BAYOU MAHARAJAH: the tragic genius of James Booker’

James Booker was a far out motherfucker.  He had his first hit at age 12 and died alone in the waiting room of New Orleans Charity Hospital at age 43.  He wore an eye patch over his left eye, and everyone it seems was told a different story of the damaged eye – was it pulled out by drug dealers or Ringo Starr? They called him the Piano Prince, the Black Liberace, and even the Bayou Maharajah.  He played with everyone from Dr. John to Jerry Garcia, the aforementioned Ringo, and the Doobie Brothers).  Like so many great American artists, he [...]

By |March 2, 2014|Tags: , |

‘Mistaken For Strangers’ hits all the right notes to open Noise Pop Film Series

Filmed over the course of a year, Mistaken For Strangers documents Tom Berninger's experience on the road and at home with The National — the globally-acclaimed indie rock band that happens to be fronted by his older brother, the baritone voiced and outwardly morose Matt Berninger. Born nine years apart in Cincinnati, Ohio, it's the relationship of Matt and Tom that truly takes center stage in Mistaken For Strangers, a daring and inventive strategy that drives the film to explore themes of brotherly love, purpose, and art without any notion of pretension — a major surprise for anyone familiar with The [...]

Black Muddle: Until The Light Takes Us @ YBCA

Making a documentary is a delicate balancing act, and the inexperience of first-time filmmakers Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell is palpable as they attempt the definitive black metal doc. The story of Norway's fratricidal, arson-happy music scene is well known to some, and Aites and Ewell were wise to go right to the source, relocating to Oslo and securing unprecedented access to the genre's major players. They decided to let their subjects do the talking, weaving the harrowing story through accented anecdotes and cobbled-together footage, avoiding heavy-handed voiceover. For veteran directors, this might well have been the right choice, but [...]

One night only at the Red Vic: American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art

American Artifact world premieres tonight with two showings at the Red Vic Theatre on Haight Street, 5pm and 7pm. If only everything about this movie were as cool as that Cheetah wearing sunglasses. Director Merle Becker's debut documentary has its heart in the right place, and the filmmaker's passion for posters bleeds from every frame, but American Artifact fails at the crucial task of transmitting this enthusiasm to its audience. Becker thinks we might be made interested in rock posters, and, indeed, we might, but her answer to the question "why should I be interested in rock posters?" seems mostly [...]

Seoul Brothers: Go-Go 70’s at the SFIFF

When writer/director Ho Choi released his rollicking rock and roll picture in Korea in 2008, it debuted during trying economic times, not making the impact it perhaps deserved to make. One hopes that increasing exposure at international festivals will bring it to a wider and more enthusiastic audience. The film, originally titled Gogo Chilship, could be described as a Korean version of The Commitments, Alan Parker's widely successful story of a group of Dublin musicians who form a soul band. This comparison would be reductive, to be fair, and Choi deserves credit for crafting a film that deploys a number [...]

By |May 18, 2009|Tags: , |

Rock and Kidney Pie: D Tour at the SFIFF

D Tour opens with the familiar trappings of a band-on-the-road movie--we meet drummer Pat Spurgeon in the practice space, tweaking his drumset as his band, SF indie-heroes Rogue Wave, prepares to set off on tour. Well into middle age and sporting a riotous caucausian 'fro, Spurgeon is the picture of a friendly, articulate indie musician, talking earnestly about how his lack of a "back-up plan" keeps him committed to his musical dream. Having shrugged off penury and failure in the past, Spurgeon finally feels at home in Rogue Wave, poised to hit the big time with their clever, catchy indie-pop. [...]

Metal on Metal

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is the kind of movie people pregame for. I know because some dude blew chunks all over the floor at Slim's, hastily erected rows of folding chairs and a teeming mass of heavy metal cinemaniacs denying him the solace of the bathroom stall. Anvil is a little-known Canadian metal band, an acknowledged influence of the 80's "Big Four" (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer) that never really got their due, never really hit the big time. Screwed over by labels, promoters, and Lady Luck (perhaps the biggest offender), they toil in obscurity, trudging through the Ontario [...]

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