Friday, August 19, 2005

Tribute (Curry/Fox, 2001)

Tribute is an engaging, and frequently insightful documentary about the world of tribute bands. Over the course of ninety minutes, we are introduced to average men with regular day jobs who spend their evenings dressing up like famous rock stars and grasping brief moments of glory in front of fans that seem to be just as willing to play the role of pseudo-rock groupie. Naturally, there is a KISS tribute band that must scramble to find a replacement for their founding member after he renounces the decadent lifestyle of his character, Gene Simmons. There is the Monkees tribute band that breaks up over a rift between the smarmy pseudo-Davy Jones and the foul-mouthed pseudo-Mike Nesmith, who then both go on to form their own separate Monkees bands. There is the Judas Priest tribute band that speaks with part reverence and part jealousy about the lead singer of another Priest-inspired group that was called up to the big show to replace Rob Halford. And finally, there is the Queen tribute band that has the unenviable task of finding another lead singer that can mimic the incomparable Freddie Mercury after their original superstar leaves to join (I kid you not) the German production of Cats. If all of this sounds like a laugh riot to rival a Christopher Guest film, you might be surprised to learn that Tribute is actually more poignant and occasionally outright sad than you would expect it to be. There is something about watching these moderately talented men struggling to attain just a brief taste of stardom than makes us wonder about the void in our soul that strives fiercely to be loved, appreciated, and even worshipped for something that we can do well. To what lengths would we go to satisfy that need and how painful would it be to get just a taste and not be able to live out that dream for a lifetime. Is it better to work your crummy day job mending tires and never know what that rock'n'roll rush is like? Or is it better to live like Ace Frehley for a few nights even if it means coming home to your dull middle-class life and knowing that aping someone else's greatness is probably the most remarkable thing you will ever do?



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