I was ecstatic for the first forty minutes of this music documentary, but I took a short nap for the remainder of the film, and I’m certain it wasn’t because of physical exhaustion.
Scott Peterson’s venture into the realm of independent music labels certainly had the potential to be one of the most poignant comments on the industry in recent years, though.
Beginning with the Chicago rock scene, and labels such as Touch and Go, Peterson seems to be exploring the relationship between bands and the media. His interviews tell how there was a already a strong underground rock scene in Chicago before the media and major labels descended upon some of the city’s smaller venues and claimed to have discovered a newly burgeoning scene. Of course, most of the bands despise the media’s often shortsighted knowledge, depth, and sensationalizing. (What? Never!) An interview with the Jesus Lizard, is especially telling as the band is candid about journalists who place their own dreams and desires upon the music of ‘a bunch of dumbasses making music in a garage.’
The film merges into a discussion between major labels and independent labels, and bands such as Veruca Salt and Sister Machine Gun compare the freedom of the latter as opposed to the money of the former. The president of Wax Trak records, Dannie Flesher, even tells the story of his label’s move from complete independence to a merge with a more financially backed major label. Inter-spliced with these interviews is footage of the bands performing, and the film moves along seamlessly, then suddenly and inexplicably begins to unravel somewhere in the middle of the label discussion.
Out of the Loop truly begins to live up to its name about half way through the film, and I don’t think it’s because Peterson was searching for metaphors. Interviews are less and less edited, and begin to become stagnant shots of bands or executives just telling anecdotes, some of which aren’t even about music. It honestly feels like the director ran out of viable footage and resorted to whatever was left over to stretch the documentary out. It would have been a superb 40 minute glimpse though.
I never thought I’d have to write a negative review on any film trying to search for the roots of such labels as Wax Trak and bands like Sister Machine Gun. That being said, watch the first half of Out of the Loop, then vault towards your VCR and pray that you aren’t sucked into a meaningless oblivion: Such a realm is only pertinent when making Industrial music anyway.