David Markey's documentary of life on the road with Sonic Youth and Nirvana during their tour of Europe in late 1991. Also featuring live performances by Dinosaur Jr, Babes In Toyland, The ... See full summary »
The world of grunge. This documentary examines the Seattle scene as it became the focus of a merging of punk rock, heavy metal, and innovation. Building from the grass roots, self-promoted and self-recorded until break-out success of bands like Nirvana brought the record industry to the Pacific Northwest, a phenomenon was born. More than just an examination of the music, this is a look at how this artistic movement became a societal and fashion trend with a major effect on American culture. Written by
Bruce Cameron <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I mean, you hear a song that's a great song; play it a million times, you never want to hear it again... "If I hear that song one more time... if I see that guy's face one more time... I'm gonna fuckin find out his address and kill that motherfucker!" I don't blame 'em. I've said it myself.
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The credits end with the statement "Your town is next." See more »
When you think about what happened up in the Pacific Northwest during the late '80s and early '90s, you kind of realize that this "scene" was always destined to fail. There's no way a secluded, out-of-the-way region like Washington state could have produced a long-lasting cash cow. It did in a backhanded kind of way since people are still leeching off the scene to create a much more dumbed-down version (Seether, anyone?). That's not to say everything that came from Seattle was intelligent. No one would accuse Seaweed or Gas Huffer for being the most brilliant bands ever. But there was an authenticity that came from those bands and many others that were created in Seattle that scene-hoppers like Candlebox couldn't replicate.
And the movie Hype perfectly illustrates this point. It shows the juxtaposition created by commercial success and authenticity. Occasionally the two can coexist, but more often then not they're mutually exclusive. So to see bands like the Screaming Trees on the cusp of fame, only to shy away from it (even if unintentionally), you kind of get the idea what a lot of the Seattle bands were about. Most never expected to amount to anything more than the guy who serves you your coffee at Starbucks. The goal for a lot of people was just to make music they personally enjoyed, and then play a few shows. If they got lucky, they expected maybe to tour up-and-down the West Coast. And then that's it But MTV came calling and then that was it. Authenticity is replaced by photogenic front men.
Don't get me wrong. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were all greats band, but they got a lot of their attention because they were lucky enough to be fronted by sensitive, good-looking guys that girls would go crazy for. They had great music, but their looks coupled with the down-and-dirty attire that they wore made them into the guys-next-door. The movie Singles helped to solidify that image, and then grunge became a household word. Meanwhile Tad were stuck out in the cold, stormy weather of Seattle, playing music that was equally compelling.
If anything, don't watch Hype for the big bands that came out of the scene. Watch it for the obscure bands you've never heard of. Bands like the Fastbacks, the Gits, Some Velvet Sidewalk, and Love Battery. Is Eddie Vedder a good listen? Well, yeah. But does he make much sense? Nope.
Another big highlight of this movie are the producers, the writers of fanzines, the current (and former) employees of Sub-Pop, generally everyone that lived in Seattle but wasn't in a band. They all have great stories that really go back to illustrating the authenticity of the music, and eventually also pointing out its corruption.
This along with the more recent Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols-documentary Dig should be required viewing for any self-respecting music fan. They both brilliantly show the highs and lows of success in the music business, and everything those two polarities entail.
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