Okay, first, watch Creston Spiers destroy his guitar:
I was there that sweaty summer night at the Caledonia Lounge in Athens, Ga. The local band Harvey Milk had just reunited, and I was a relatively new fan. The set list ran the gamut of the band's sludge-encrusted discography, including a few songs from the then-in-the-works Special Wishes, but it was fresh to me.
Creston Spiers howled like a Mississippi bluesman who just lost his eyes and pulled out barbed-wire guitar riffs with his bare hands. Bassist Stephen Tanner and drummer Paul Trudeau slow-roasted the rhythm section, but were quick to fire up. I left the venue exhilarated, pulverized and drunk with energy (and maybe a little drunk from other things). Ever since, I've romanticized that night as one of the best concerts I've ever experienced.
That was back in 2005. It seems like forever ago, but the recently reissued concert documentary, Anthem, brings that night back. It chronicles Harvey Milk shows as early as 1993, but until this version, had neglected to include the climax of the Caledonia gig. I was so glad to relive Spiers pounding his gorgeous guitar into the stage — it was one of those rare moments when the arc of the performance had no place to go but destruction.
Concert films and documentaries rarely interest me, excepting truly historical documents like Otis Redding's electrifying Monterey performance. Because I'd seen one of the concerts highlighted on Anthem, I really wanted to see it again, even if from a different lens. And looking back at it now, the alcohol that night had nothing to do with how powerful that conclusion was for me — that image had been burned in my mind, and now this DVD re-creates it frame by frame.
Are you more likely to pick up a concert film or documentary if you were actually there? And if you were at the concert portrayed in the film, does watching it after the fact change how you remember the experience?
(By the way, you can download MP3s of that Caledonia show from Southern Shelter.)