There’s a particular allure to music documentaries. Perhaps more than any other artists, musicians seem to captivate our hearts and imaginations, and who doesn’t wish somewhere deep down that they could have been part of a touring rock band? You get to move masses, bare your soul on stage every night, vibe with a handful of co-conspirators in a sort of musico-spiritual harmony. Then of course there’s the groupies, endless parties, busted-up hotel rooms on the record label’s tab, rehab stints, spiritual epiphanies, VH1 specials. Oh, what could have been.
And if there’s one Latin American country that just gets rock n’ roll right, it’s Argentina. Soda Stereo, El Flaco Spinetta (RIP), Attaque 77… there’s just somethin’ in the water down in el puerto that lends itself to crashing cymbals, chugging guitars and snarling vocals, and with the upcoming documentary Poner al rock de moda by first-time director Santiago Charriére, we get a privileged window into the life and times of a Argentine rock band on the verge of hitting it big.
Shot in an observational style, in the great tradition of directors like D.A. Pennebaker or the Maysles Brothers, Poner al rock de moda follows throwback pop rockers Banda de Turistas after they’ve already gone from hard working, word-of-mouth phenomenon to pop sensations with hit singles. But, as this story usually goes, pressure from labels and the desire for even more success leads to some serious collective soul searching, as the band struggles to maintain their essence amidst their attempt to stay on top.
Using some fictional elements incorporated to avoid the usual talking head interviews, or voiceover narration, Poner al rock de moda sets itself apart in its intimate, fly-on-the-wall perspective on a rock band as it struggles through a critical moment in their professional development. And while the teaser doesn’t give away much in the way of plot or conflict, it’s use of the band’s chaotic live recordings along with Charriére’s restless camera give’s us one of the best minute-long summaries of the ups and downs of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. Think 1970s Gimme Shelter with sudaca accents and heaps of porteño attitude.