This list is based on the recent concert 3D Imax movie, Metallica Through the Never. This is the first narrative concert movie in several years. Katy Perry: Part of Me or Justin Bieber’s various music docs don’t count because they just show the artists behind the scenes. This type of concert movie was commonly produced in the ’70s. Through the Never largely shows an HD look at one of Metallica’s larger than life concerts. Their non-stop adrenaline pounding tunes play the soundtrack to a fictional narrative where their roadie has to travel through the city in an apocalyptic battle to pick up a mysterious item the band needs. Think, Heavy Metal with less cartoon nudity and mythical beasts.
This movie got me thinking about other bands that need their own big screen concert movies with a plot running throughout. Choosing quality bands is obviously a subjective matter, and I’m guaranteed to upset people by leaving particular selections off. Leave your choices in the comments below. My goal for this list is to find bands that put on spectacular shows that would look great on an Imax screen, have music that directly links to a possible plot or theme, still play together, and they must have more than one album out. That means no Imagine Dragons.
For this list I got help from someone who has a more advanced knowledge of music than I do (Trying to be humble). You can check out his music reviews here. He’ll also be adding a few selections of his own.
If there’s any band that needs their own big screen movie based on their music, it’s Muse. These guys are often called the best live band in the world for a good reason. If you’ve ever been to one of their shows, you’ve experienced a simulated martian battlefield as you stand in a sea of light and rock anthems. Their film would look something like their latest major concert movie, Live at Rome Olympic Stadium. That concert movie was filmed in 4K and looks incredible. All they need to do is add in a short film spliced in with the music.
Any of Muse’s songs could make for a thrilling soundtrack, but the plot would revolve around their continuing theme of fighting a dystopian government. Their album, The Resistance, is essentially their love letter to George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984. The title of their song, The United States of Eurasia, is pulled right from the novel’s pages. I would love to see a modern adaptation of the soul-crushing story of a man who finds love in a society where it’s dangerous to have your own thoughts. The couple would plot to escape the clutches of the oppressive government and fight to survive. Why hasn’t anyone made this movie yet?
Here I was, thinking I was brilliant. I thought a great original idea for a feature film would be based on Arcade Fire’s album, The Suburbs. It turns out that Spike Jonze beat me to the punch. He produced a 30 minute short film called Scenes from the Suburbs. While the video fits the album’s tone well, the music of Arcade Fire needs to play a bigger part. In the short film, the music is only heard playing in the background and even then it’s only played in snippets. You can watch that video here.
Honestly, any of Arcade Fire’s albums could be put to film. Each of their projects have a theme and particular sound, namely Reflektor, Funeral and Neon Bible. I would love to see a coming-of-age story, played with footage of Arcade Fire on tour with all 27 band members on stage (It’s not really 27, more like 12). Their tracks are suited for an indie darling. I imagine the movie starting with several selections from The Suburbs album. It would show the main character growing up with innocence and a great imagination. As he gets older, he will struggle with his identity as he tries to find religion and his purpose. This section will largely be complete with songs from Neon Bible. As he ages more and finds happiness in his family and his passions, the theme will move to the Funeral album. Despite the name, the album is very bright and inspiring.
The only way to describe Sufjan (pronounced Soof-yawn) Stevens to new listeners would be by saying he’s a weird dude with the voice of honey. There was a time when he planned to dedicate an album to each state in the nation. At the end of the experiment, he had only completed two states: Michigan and Illinois. The latter album, “Come On, Feel the Illinoise!” is a masterpiece of experimental indie/bluegrass/folk proportions. Don’t let that scare you. It’s a work of audio art.
Each of the tracks in “Illinoise” are dedicated to a particular time period, famous citizen or region of Illinois. The title track gives an upbeat description of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. There is also a hauntingly beautiful song about serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. Other tracks refer to UFO sightings, Carl Sandburg, Frank Lloyd Wright, and how Metropolis was based on Chicago. The film could jump from Stevens’ strange concert setup and backing band and run alongside a flyover of Illinois throughout time. Either that, or a child would be sitting in an Illinois elementary classroom getting a lesson on the history of the state. As the teacher drones on from lesson to lesson, this kid would daydream about each concept.
The following selections are written by Just Some Guy of the aforementioned blog.
If there is any band who deserves to have their music made into a narrative concert film it should be Rush. Rush fans are a passionate bunch and speaking as one, we would drool over the idea of turning their classic career-making epic, 2112, into a full length concert film. Taking its inspiration from the writing of Ayn Rand, and most especially her dystopian novella “Anthem,” the 20 minute album opening “2112” tells the story of a futuristic earth which has fallen under the totalitarian reign of the evil priests of the temples of Syrinx. After an absolutely brain liquefying four minute instrumental overture, the lyrics began and introduce us to the priests who in the name of “equality” “regulate every facet of every life.” There is no aspect of daily life that is not ruled over by the priests from “the words you read, the songs you see, the pictures that give pleasure your eye…” Our story’s protagonist is at first awed by the sight of the temple and is moved by the “benevolent wisdom of the priests,” who live within its “massive grey walls.” This all changes when our unnamed protagonist is exploring behind his waterfall and finds an ancient device from ages past. This device he discovers has “wires that vibrate and give music…” He quickly learns to play this new instrument. Our hero is so excited by the music he creates, that he rushes to the temples to inform the priests. Expecting praise our hero is shocked as the priests take the guitar and smash it to splinters on the floor. The priests proclaim, “we have no need for ancient ways our world is doing fine…” Saddened and confused our protagonist returns to his home behind the waterfall. That night he is shown a vision by an oracle who reveals to him a world much different than the one he has grown accustomed to. He sees an older race who left earth long ago in order to create, learn and grow. It is then that the protagonist realizes how bleak his world has become and how meaningless life is without the freedom to follow one’s heart.
As you can see, it’s a story that is begging to be made into a movie. Its message of individuality and creative freedom is one that resonates with anyone who prizes identity and freedom. The concert could be fleshed out with other tunes from the Rush repertoire that carry similar themes of determination and individualism. Our hero would probably identify with the “modern day warrior” whose “mind is not for rent to any god or government,” in the song “Tom Sawyer.” Or imagine our hero singing “Free Will,” teaching others in the society, “you can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice,” and then proclaiming, “I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose free will…” A little cheesy, a lot nerdy, but totally freaking epic!!! I’m saying the movie would star Andrew Garfield as the hero, Gary Oldmam as one of the priests with the Wachowski siblings directing. I’d see it at least 2,112 times.
While it’s not a concept album, there are enough similar themes in Alex Turner’s lyrics that it would be easy to create a narrative from several Arctic Monkeys tunes. I’m thinking a romantic break up story starring Joseph Gordon Leavitt, who else, trying to get over his former lover played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in “Scott Pilgrim” mode. The bulk of the material would come from the last Monkey’s album “AM.” In fact, this one would probably work better as a musical then it would as a concert film.
Picture this: JGL following his ex girlfriend walking around at night with her new boyfriend, probably Justin Timberlake at his douchiest, on their way to a club. JGL is stalking just far enough behind to not be seen as sings “Do I Wanna Know.” The scene could jump back and forth between JGL stalking his former lover and scenes of him drunk dialing her or constantly sitting alone in his apartment playing “their song” on repeat as he cries himself asleep. There could be several moments of attempted healing through one night stands. JGL spotting one girl who he “bets looks good on the dance floor.” “No. 1 Party Anthem,” would be perfect for a scene of JGL patrolling but actually just trolling a party for a desperate girl to take back to his place. Failing at this he notices women of the night on the street corner; cue up “When the Sun Goes Down.” He takes one of them home hoping to exorcise break up demons but he ends up feeling worse as throws the prostitute out. He again drunkenly dials his ex who finally replies, “Why do you only call me when you’re high?”
The movie would also have to include a scene where JGL’s best friend, comes over to his apartment to check on his friend only to find the apartment a darkened mess with a stubbly faced JGL sporting a bathrobe sits lighting matches and throwing them in a toilet. Empty liquor bottles and candy wrappers litter the floor. The best friend played by, Tobey Maguire in a comeback role, throws open the curtains and begins singing “Snap Out of It.” I’m pretty sure “Mad Sounds” could be used in a dream sequence a la “Beauty School Drop Out,” featuring scantily clad angels singing “ooh la la, ooh la la.” That should be enough of an outline for the main story. Please someone, preferably Stephen Frears of “High Fidelity” fame or even Richard Linklater, make this movie.
Imagine a futuristic world in which humans so absorbed in technology actually began to merge with their technology and slowly lose all of the characteristics that make them human in a nightmarish Orwellian fantasy. The movie would be stylistically indebted to Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.” A slow paced sci fi drama that would examine what it means to be human in a world ruled by technology and what the hell corrupt tyrannical politicians.
This is a film that would feature Radiohead in concert playing mostly songs from “Ok Computer” in between scenes of an apocalyptic earth where all humans are wearing something analogous to Google glass. Anyway the movie could be like a zombie movie only instead of virus infecting the body and turning humanity into zombies, a computer virus could infect the Google glass and turn humanity into a race of robots. The virus is planted by aliens looking to enslave humanity and colonize the earth. Besides obvious choices like “Paranoid Android” and “Subterranean Homesick Alien” from the “Ok Computer” album, the film could also feature “Fake Plastic Trees,” symbolizing how artificial everything has become in this technological nightmare. “How to Disappear Completely,” would be about the loss of identity and “Where I End and You Begin” with its “I will eat you alive” lyrics could be used in a scene where a small bunch of rebels faces off against either the aliens or their robot human minions.
Whether or not humanity triumphs before Radiohead’s last encore will depend completely on the decision of director Nicholas Winding Refn and star of the film Ryan Gosling. Again, please Hollywood, Radiohead, make this freaking movie.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know the band and the theme in the comments below.