Bang Sugar Bang, King Cheetah, The Dollyrots, The OAOT's, Silver Needle, The Letter Openers, The Randies
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Fans of this generation's indie music scene are sure to enjoy Dave Palamaro's In Heaven There Is No Beer, a delightfully fringe-dwelling documentary about the short-lived yet inspired Kiss or Kill music scene that altered L.A.'s musical landscape between 2002-2007 before falling victim to many of the very things it was created to work against for indie musicians and indie music fans.
From 2002-2007, bands like the Dollyrots, Silver Needle, O.A.O.T.'s, Bang Sugar Bang, The Randies and others united together in an effort to rebel against an L.A. indie music scene that had become self-serving, uninspired and apathetic. Most indie bands were resigned to either the pay-to-pay clubs on Sunset Strip or the overly trendy Silverlake crowds, a group of bands formed the Kiss or Kill scene on the basic concepts of great music, cheap booze, low cover charges and, perhaps most notably, a communal spirit that transcended the usual "me first" bullshit that had permeated L.A.'s music scene and turned it into a scene far from friendly to indie musicians and fans.
In Heaven There Is No Beer is filled with killer music, whether or not you find yourself familiar with the bands involved or not. There's a refreshing lack of pretentiousness in the film that exemplifies what those involved with the moment hoped to accomplish, a hope that was fulfilled for a few years until, over time, the movement itself started to take on the very traits that had so bothered the musicians in the beginning.
Palamaro, who is not just a film director here but who was centrally involved in the movement, clearly has a passion for the subject and he brings that passion out in virtually every aspect of the film ranging from its gritty camera work to its laid back yet surprisingly resonant interviews with others who had been involved. At its peak, over 60 bands found themselves involved in Kiss or Kill but it would be the every day petty jealousies and egos that would eventually spell the end for the movement by 2007.
In Heaven There Is No Beer is already proving to be wildly popular on the film festival circuit, with appearances at Dances With Films, Macon Film Festival, ArcLight Film Festival and others. That's not surprising. Palamaro captures the spirit of the movement without ever coming off as a worshipper instead of a filmmaker. Palamaro weaves fantastic performances and entertaining interviews together, though the occasional intertwining of commentary graphics seemed a bit unnecessary and gimmicky. Five years removed from the movement, it's clear that those involved still have been powerfully impacted by their experiences.
In Heaven There Is No Beer is a must see documentary for those who appreciate the indie music scene, but also for those who admire the foundations of the creative spirit and the lengths that artists will go to for their craft. Simultaneously inspiring and entertaining, In Heaven There is No Beer continues on the film festival circuit and should have no problem finding an indie distributor following its festival run. For more information on the film, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic