These four films give fascinating insights into some very different music scenes.
1. Pick it Up! Ska in the 90's
This 2019 documentary was directed by Taylor Morden and will warm the hearts of now grown-up 90's kids. It covers the rise and fall in popularity of Ska during the 90's, including interviews with members of Reel Big Fish, the Aquabats, Fishbone, Skankin' Pickle, Save Ferris, Hepcat and many others.
Enjoy relentlessly upbeat music that helped awkward kids to dance and briefly made horn players cool. To quote Chuck Robertson from The Mad Caddies "this is so different and so weird and my parents are gonna hate it".
Pick it Up! Ska in the 90s is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and is currently streaming on Tubi.
2. J-Hope in the Box
J-Hope in the Box (2023), directed by Jun-Soo Park, covers 200 days in the life of South Korean singer-songwriter and dancer, Jung Ho-Seok, better known as J-Hope.
After devoting his entire twenties to performing with the Korean supergroup BTS, J-Hope released his first solo studio album in 2022. He then had his first solo performance as the headliner at Lollapalooza in Chicago (Wow, no pressure!). In this film, we get to see some of J-Hope's process as he composes and rehearses his music and celebrates with his friends.
I know it's edited and designed to make J-Hope look good, but he certainly comes across in this film as a sweet, goofy, very tired human being. It's refreshing to see a megastar who still seems thrilled by being offered a fancy drink or getting to meet his own musical idols.
If you like J-Hope's music you'll enjoy this one because it contains many of his new songs in their entirety. For BTS fans, Jimin is also in this movie briefly as he came to stay with J-Hope in Chicago for moral support in the lead up to the festival.
J-Hope in the Box is currently streaming on Disney Plus.
3. This is GWAR (2022)
GWAR is an American heavy metal band/group of performance artists, which formed in Richmond, Virginia in 1984. They perform dressed as space warrior characters and use a lot of bizarre, over the top special effects and crude humour on stage. For example, the documentary kicks off by showing the audience the tanks they use to spray the audience with litres of fake blood during shows.
The film is directed by Barber, and follows the story of the band from their formation up until 2022 (when the film was released), with fascinating anecdotes about how the various members joined and sometimes left the band, as well as run ins with the police and even carjackers. There are also interviews with some famous GWAR fans, including Weird Al Yankovic and actor Alex Winter (Ted from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure).
It is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
4. My Stupid Tribute Band
My Stupid Tribute Band (2023), written and directed by Michael Mroz, documents the 20 year history of the ACDC tribute band Back in Black. There is plenty of drama, with lots of personality clashes between the band members. Mike Mroz's love for the music, and performing with the band is contagious and made me want to see the band perform live.
My Stupid Tribute Band is currently streaming on Tubi.