Wednesday, July 3, 2013

NXNE 2013 Film Review - Authentic: Young Rival's Journey Through Canada

Opening with a shot of bassist John Smith, drummer Noah Fralick and lead guitarist and singer Aron D'Alesio sitting in a backyard in Hamilton Director Brendan McCarney introduces the audience to the Hamilton not so punk band Young Rival. McCarney is back at NXNE for the second year in the row having filmed Ages & Stages: The Story of the Melgrove Band last year and he hinted that he will be back again next year for the trifecta with a film on the band Wildlife who also appear in this documentary.

The tour starts off at the Town House in Sudbury where legend has it that Stompin' Tom Connors wrote the words for Sudbury Saturday Night on a wall in the Tavern somewhere beneath the paneling. The band next heads to Thunder Bay then the rest of the tour stops are all points West. As the van heads along the Trans Canada highway the band stops at an abandon house were it's obvious that families and children were squatting in the building.  Instruments are set up and they play Nothing You Know Well.  The song is shot using the natural light coming in from the open windows and featuring close ups of the band, the holes in the walls, and the damaged plasterboard. This is the first of a series of non concert performances throughout the film where Young Rival set up and play at various off beat locations along the tour.

Director McCarney also cuts in and out of an interview the band did on CBC radio 3 in Vancouver  throughout the piece. The band discusses being on the road, their type of music that is always changing and two things that they are know for outside of their music, exchanging postcards with their fans and their Wildcat brand of wine.

The band gives an interesting perspective on records, MP3's and studio material reporting that sales are not important. The goal is to get your name and music out to the public. They would almost rather give the music away for free to the public to build a following that would come to their shows.

As they travel to Medicine Hat they met a local character Old George in White Wood Saskatchewan. On George's property he has built a city/village/amusement park out of vintage items. The band is lead into his prized building the bar where they set up and play Valerie. Drummer Noah Fralich is not able to set up his drums so he keeps time tapping on an old violin The band is really taken by George as they recall the event in the backyard interview vowing to return and play a full concert at the location in the future.

The film really captures the grind of the road for a small band. They go from show to show all crammed into an old van. They are their own roadies, instrument techs and stage crew.  If they don't like how a venue is set up as it inhibits people from coming to the stage or dancing.  Lead singer D'Alesio jumps down off stage and re arrange the tables in the place himself. The film directors travel as the band does and spend many a night sleeping on the floor of their hotel rooms.

Perhaps the best part of the documentary is the interaction between fellow bands on the road.  After an  incident in Winnipeg where a window is broken on the van they put out the word to the touring community and get an offer from the Sheepdogs to use their van sitting vacant in Saskatoon.  The main relationship is with the members of Hollerado who are slightly more accomplished than Young Rival but can see form their dedication to the craft that they will be successful in the music business. The band also interacts with Arkells and Wildlife the latter who along with Hollerado are part of a great prank played on Young Rival on the last day of the tour in Saskatoon.

The last of the impromptu gigs is in a brewery on Vancouver Island the owner of the brewery is another great character .  Young Rival get a tour of the brewery, then set up amongst the tanks to play Night Song.  Once again there is no space for Noah to set up drums therefore he keeps time on one of the tanks.  The owner hits another level when he learns about the wine and the band gives him a bottle of their Wildcat wine.

Authentic: Young Rival's Journey through Canada is a gritty look into the world of indie rock in Canada. It's not glamorous, bands want to play their music well aware that they could compromise and write songs that music executives and radio programmers want to hear but it would not be true to their core.

The directors capture the day to day drudgery of the road; each day a new city a hurriedly arranged phone interview as you're on the way out for breakfast followed by a show at night to a small room of hardcore rock fans. The film is an insightful account of the indie rock scene in Canada and one that I can recommend.

*** out of 4.

Authentic: Young Rival's Journey Through Canada | Mike Gillespie/ Brendan McCarney| 2013| Canada | 88 Minutes.

2013 NXNE Film Festival.

Tags: Indie Rock, Canadian Tour, Travel, Hamilton, CBC Radio 3, The Sheepdogs, Hollerado, Wildcat Wine, Wildlife.

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