Thursday, June 30, 2016

Led Zeppelin Played Here (2014)

Led Zeppelin Played Here (2014)

In 1986 Jeff Krulik and a friend took some video equipment out from their jobs to test it out and see what they could do.  They went to a Judas Priest concert, and hung out in the parking lot with the metalheads who got there early to party and hang out before the show.  What they left with ended up becoming a 17 minute short called Heavy Metal Parking Lot, one of the most bootlegged tapes in the history of the world.

Jeff went on to direct this documentary on the possibility of one of the biggest bands in the world playing a tiny show in a school gym for 50 people one night in 1969.  The premise of this documentary is simple.  One guy, a promoter from long ago, claims he was the first person to book Led Zeppelin in a school gym in 1969.  He says maybe 50 people showed up, and he had to throw the band and manager some extra money just so they could make it to their next gig.  Unfortunately, there seems to be no record of this show, no pictures, and no actual documentation.  Is the guy wrong?  Is he lying?  Is there something else possibly going on?

The movie includes interviews with many people who lived in the area and went to many of the shows in the area, especially at that school.  There are many instances of bands playing early gigs at the school, and pictures and documentation to prove so.  If that is the case, why none for Led Zeppelin?  Well, the film posits many different theories, and interviews tons of people about this possible show.

The amount of digging that went on to find a possible confirming fact is pretty insane.  All kinds of people are interviewed, pictures are scoured through, ads in newspapers, chats with promoters, record company execs, even some of Led Zeppelin themselves!  What this ends up amounting to is a vast story about the early days of pre-internet rock and roll, when deals were made over the phone with no paperwork, and sometimes all you had as a promise was a handshake.

The interviews are fun, the pictures amazing, the stories insane, and all in all this movie has a lot going for it.  Instead of just sticking with Led Zeppelin, we hear stories about Iggy Pop and The Stooges, The Who, Spirit, and many other groups who were touring the circuit those days.  We see posters, ticket stubs, contracts and documents.  We meet people who were there, and whose memories might be a bit confused, but nonetheless are fascinating.

The bad part for me was I missed the first 10-15 minutes of this movie, as I was coming from another movie not too far away, but just far enough to delay me a bit.  Feel free to send me a copy Jeff!  Otherwise I fully enjoyed both the movie and the post movie chat Jeff gave regarding the film and the people in it.  He is an entertaining guy.  One other unfortunate thing is that this movie, while playing the festivals once in a while, will probably never be properly released due to licensing issues.  This is one of those examples when a fair use license would come in handy, so movies of a historical nature like this one can be released for the good of all the world, where giant rock stars and companies can forego the large fees they would normally charge to allow works of art to prosper and be seen by more people.  Considering the recent Led Zeppelin lawsuit, it would be nice if they paid it forward and let a guy like Jeff release his film with their music in it.

8 out of 10 stars.