In the summer of 1969 America was given three days of peace, love and music with the Woodstock Festival. There the likes of Jimi Hendrix, CSN&Y, Arlo Guthrie, and The Band performed what some would say a musical baptism in front of thousands upon thousands of pot loving tree huggers. Now, almost thirty years later, twenty-two bands from all over America and Europe gathered together in New York for a festival all there own. It almost resembles Woodstock except there’s less flowers and love beads and more open wounds and pale people in black.
“American Rumble” follows the first New York Psychobilly Festival. Armed with stand up basses and a love for the macabre, the bands performed for three days to over eight hundred screaming fanatics. All of the bands falling under the categories of Psychobilly, Punk, Garage and Horror Rock, “American Rumble” almost gives off the feel of a Stray Cats and Oingo Boingo world tour. The movie captures footage from their performances along with interviews with the band after each performance.
Although there is some good music and footage behind this film (Batmobile forever baby!) the film follows the same pattern for each band which makes the movie drag on. Reverend Doom and The Hillbilly Werewolf introduce each band, and then we get footage of the bands performance and then interviews of the bandmates. It’s not a bad formula to follow, but with American Rumble you have twenty-two bands that are in the same genre of music and appear the same on stage. After awhile it’s hard to tell who is who because they all look and sound the same and by the end of the movie you start not caring.
The film is broken up a little near the end of the film when we learn about the breakup of the band Demented Are Go due to one of their members being arrested for harassing a store clerk in New York. We also see footage of some of the bands while not at the festival starting brush fires and hiding their dicks like Buffalo Bob, pretending to be women.
The film itself is very well shot and you can tell that there was a good amount of preparation behind it. All of the bands were hitting their mark and the performances were outstanding. But in a circumstance like this they almost have too much of a good thing. Again, the formula of the film almost gives the impression that they could cut it down to an excellent short film and only capture the performances that should be remembered.