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Rock Movie Reviews
Tribute

2001 / dir. Kris Curry and Rich Fox

I think I knit a new furrow in my brow watching Tribute - the self-proclaimed “rockumentary” about, you guessed it, tribute bands. I wish I could laugh about it but instead I’m reminded of that quote about how most people lead lives of quiet desperation. Or, in these cases, loud desperation.

The film focuses on 4+ bands – Larger Than Life (KISS), Bloodstone (Judas Priest), The Missing Links (Monkees), and Sheer Heart Attack (Queen) along with this band’s obsessive fan Superfan. There’s all the usual drama you might expect in a band – the struggle, the creative differences, the dilemma of what to do when a member leaves or simply goes crazy and sets his own house on fire and has to be carted away. Uh, yeah. But the thing is these aren’t your typical bands. They’re bands imitating other bands. When you see Larger Than Life trying to put on a KISS-style arena rock show in a club for maybe 100 people, it damn near breaks your heart. And the lead singer for Bloodstone can’t conceal his bitterness when he talks about Tim “Ripper” Owens – the guy who used to front a Judas Priest tribute band who actually ended up in Judas Priest when Rob Halford left the band. But it’s Superfan who’s the most upsetting. Big Queen fan? Great, no problem. But to be that obsessed with a Queen tribute band? Like seriously, they interviewed him getting ready to go see the band and he’s all jittery talking about how hyped up he gets on “show days” to the point where he can’t eat. And the huge sense of loss he feels when the lead singer leaves to do musical theater in Germany? That’s not normal. I really hope that he’s found some new interests and hobbies – - things to fill up his life.

In the end, who am I to pass judgment on any of these people? I once dreamed that music would lead me to fame, though as a radio dj not as a rock star. But I learned that radio isn’t really about the music and frankly, these days I’m not sure the music industry is about the music. These people may not be innovators, they’re not going to save rock’n’roll, but they really love the music and that counts for something.


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