Smokes & Strings
Words: Desmond ‘Neo’ Childs
The story of Rock’N’Roll, whether how it got started here in the United States or how it migrated, became adopted, or caught on elsewhere is full of tall-tales. Here’s an article from a while back that lists 101 such things, mostly about American Rock’n’Roll. Turn It Up To 11 is a documentary centered around three unlikely events.
A popular indie rocker settling down….
….opening up a live club in a town full of motels…
…and the two bands that later joined…
With Lee Gyu-young opening up Ruby Salon (strange name for a live music club), he had no idea by years end it would be the number one label in Korean indie rock. This film doesn’t go into detail about the specifics of what he did to the humble establishment, but it does gives us a look at the type of environment that cultivated the two popular bands.
Underachievers and losers can totally win too
Tobacco Juice has been in the indie scene for 4 years and has yet to release their first album. Not because of a serious of unfortunate events, but because their a group of slackers. They prefer to drink, smoke, laugh, and be lazy; while their attitude toward their music felt a little insincere. We get to see them crack jokes on each other, tell stories of being late to gigs or arguments that nearly broke the band up. For a while the audience is left seeing these guys for what they were-silly, goofball slouches that drank before, after, and sometimes during their live performances. Yeah, as a live band, these guys developed a reputation. A positive one. Was it because of the power of rock’n’roll, like the movie wants us to suggest? Perhaps, but a some point, these slackers do get serious (enough) about their craft to put the album out. Whether or not they may have waited too long to get serious, I’ll let you find out yourself.
The second band the film covers is Galaxy Express. This group’s attitude toward music is more what I expected to see from a band “on the come up”. They take practice seriously, and their live shows quickly earn the band buzz around the area. Taking pride in the fact that they do little to no promoting, the word-of-mouth soon leads to the band getting gigs. They rock it out and their popularity grows and grows. If you’re curious to know what happens to Galaxy Express on their meteoric rise to the top, I suggest you watch the movie.
This documentary isn’t groundbreaking, thought-provoking film-work here, and it doesn’t need to be. What I got most out of it, was the fact that in a little over a year this little “Ruby Salon” shot from unknown, to top of the class. Galaxy Express rose with it, and Tobacco Juice had their own success as well. It’s a fun, little retrospect on an unlikely rise to the top. A former indie star, his humble live club, and the two bands that joined on the same year. And in the case of Tobacco Juice, underachievers can totally win too.
Turn It Up to 11 is available to watch on Hulu.com and Dramafever.com as well.