It’s been nearly 20 years since the VANS WARPED TOUR first rocked stages across North America, and in that time a number of video releases and ‘concert films’ have set out to document the experience. None has done a finer job than NO ROOM FOR ROCKSTARS, the new film from Director/Editor Parris Patton. Released in a one-night theatrical engagement last month and out now on iTunes with a DVD release slated for May 15th, NO ROOM FOR ROCKSTARS is not just another highlight reel smashed and chopped for the home video market. It’s an engaging tale that weaves the stories of four drastically different artists as all of them attempt to bring their music to the masses.
Filmed during the 2010 Vans Warped Tour, NO ROOM FOR ROCKSTARS avoids the obvious choice of tracking the bigger bands like ALKALINE TRIO, DROPKICK MURPHYS, ANTI-FLAG, etc., as Patton focuses on SUICIDE SILENCE, MIKE POSNER, NEVER SHOUT NEVER, and FOREVER CAME CALLING – four artists with distinctly different levels of success, style, and fanbase.
From a personal standpoint, SUICIDE SILENCE is the only act of the four whom I own a record from, and I’d thought for a long time that MIKE POSNER’s “Cooler Than Me” was a Justin Bieber song. While the film provides a great look into the touring life for these bands (along with additional insight from folks like Fletcher of PENNYWISE) and what goes on behind-the-scenes on the Kevin Lyman-founded tour, the tale of FOREVER CAME CALLING struck me as the most fascinating since they weren’t actually on the tour.
If you want to talk perseverance and dedication, FOREVER CAME CALLING offers a display that seems both foolish and inspiring as they follow the tour for weeks in hopes of landing an open slot. With virtually no money, the punk trio and a supportive brother spend their time packed in the van while peddling their CD’s at each tour stop while gathering signatures for a petition to play. Hitting lows such as stealing donuts and coffee at convenience stores to get by, eventually the band gets notice from Lyman and winds up with at 11am-ish morning slot on the “Kevin Says Stage.” The band grabs some ears and heads home knowing that they played Warped Tour. While it’s not in the film, the band has since been signed to Pure Noise Records, released a split last November, and they’ll be on tour with HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS this summer. Well-done.
Having worked numerous sides of the musical die over the years, it’s still mind-boggling to me when artists complain about having to make money. Whining about a tour being concerned with profit is such a ridiculous argument, especially when a corporate sponsor (VANS, a good one at that) has been in the name since 1995. But, that’s exactly what Christofer Drew of NEVER SHOUT NEVER does at one point, lamenting the “business” side of music, while maintaining a position on the massive tour. Any decent band should want as many people as possible to experience their music, and if they want to do it full time, they have to make some cash. It’s not hard to understand, yet irritating as hell to see people moaning about it. The reality is that it’s harder than ever to be in a band full-time. Even Lyman himself says in the film that “If Warped Tour was started in 2010, it wouldn’t last two years.” It takes money to build and tear down a city each day...
SUICIDE SILENCE is the anti-NSN, something made very clear in the way they’re introduced into the film. They’re angry. They’re metal. It’s actually pretty rare amidst the Warped crowd at this point, and it’s great to see them included. MIKE POSNER on the other hand, is about as “pop” as you can get. Though he technically is sharing a bus with about “five different bands,” Posner gets flown in-and-out for appearances on morning talk shows, HOT TOPIC signings, and Rolling Stone photo shoots. Perhaps he doesn’t fit, but maybe he does just fine.
NO ROOM FOR ROCK STARS is one of the best music docs that I’ve seen in recent months, and certainly one that should be required viewing for any band thinking about hitting the road for a full-blown tour.
The Rock Father™ Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.