Seeing your favorite performers live can be the most exhilarating experience. Be it in a YouTube video or a full-on concert in live music venues, you feed off of their energy and stage presence. You live in the moment, or at least try to capture it on your phone. Crowds of fans and music-lovers shout, scream, and sing along with their favorite performers, venerating them like a Sunday service.
Sometimes, it's a one-time experience that can't be replicated. Other times, you can watch it again.
Here are five concert films that capture and cut to that feeling.
Stop Making Sense
Widely considered as one of, if not the best concert film of all time, Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense documents the American rock band Talking Heads' performance at Hollywood Pantages Theater. This cinematic art piece by the Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia director eschews the '80s way of concert films–the barrage of lights, audience shots, and various other cinema magic–over the pure, electric artistry of the new wave band. It also shows David Byrne and his scene-stealing big suit, the kabuki-inspired outfit moving as he gyrates and dances to his songs.
Shut Up and Play the Hits
The James Murphy-led rock outfit LCD Soundsystem originally had decided to disband back in 2012. Directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace covered the band's momentous swan song in the film Shut Up and Play the Hits. It features vocalist James Murphy and the last 48 hours of LCD Soundsystem as a band, filled with cameos and guest performances from their friends, such as Arcade Fire and comedian Reggie Watts. Despite the final feel of the movie, the band reunited four years later, headlining Coachella Music and Arts Festival and releasing a new album.
Beyonce's Coachella performance in 2018 is historic in many ways. For one, she's the first Black female headliner of the said music festival. Secondly, it shines a light on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, showcasing Black Greek life. But most importantly, the concert is a triumph for the former Destiny's Child singer that's documented in the concert movie, Homecoming. From the dancers strutting to "Formation" to the backing band taking the spotlight, watch Beyonce's vision of musical perfection come to life.
Awesome; I… Shot That!
While filming concerts on your phone is often frowned upon, 50 people filming the Beastie Boys' 2004 concert is a cinematic wonder. Awesome; I… Shot That is an experimental piece on hardcore punk rock captured in film, blending in footages from various camcorders held by the group's friends and fans. It results in a belligerent yet avant-garde concert film that perfectly encapsulates the hip-hop group and their musical antics.
This Is It
The concert that never was. Michael Jackson's This is It draws the curtains on King of Pop's supposed-to-be comeback concert before he tragically passed away a month before. It shows rehearsal footage of MJ and his crew, filmed by Newsies' and High School Musical's Kenny Ortega, preparing all the flamboyant and showstopping setpieces that never came to be.
Concert films immortalize the titanic moments in history we otherwise wouldn't have seen. After all, it's highly improbable for everyone to go to their favorite musician's concert. Or impossible, as is in the case of Michael Jackson and all the other late artists. And yet, these films have captured that feeling like lightning in a bottle, allowing us to see and experience the music history that was made.