Give me your visually awesome concert films!
July 19, 2021 1:36 AM   Subscribe

I like live music, I like pretty pictures, I particularly like the two things together. Please recommend awesome concert films that are also visually interesting. Ideally ones that dispense with backstage chit chat – I want tunes + pictures, straight up!

Classics of the genre are: Stop Making Sense (1984) and Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959). Iris: A Space Opera by Justice (2019) is a recent entry that I also dig a lot. More suggestions please!
posted by threecheesetrees to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen American Utopia? David Byrne (of the Talking Heads), there is some some talk, but it's all in context of the show, no backstage chitchat. Also directed by Spike Lee.
posted by Carillon at 1:40 AM on July 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.
posted by terretu at 2:07 AM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Sigur Ros’s Heima is wonderful. The cameras point every which way and by the time it’s over you feel like you’ve visited Iceland yourself.

posted by mahorn at 2:55 AM on July 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Frank Zappa's Baby Snakes has cool claymation by Bruce Bickford, and, during the concert parts, I thought the band was interesting to look at (also, the second appearance of Adrian Belew (in a WAC uniforms here) in these answers).
posted by thelonius at 3:18 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sade Lovers Live.
posted by Jubey at 3:59 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Rust Never Sleeps. When we saw it in the theatre they always started with a few Devo short films first. And cheers from the audience at the part where he forgets the words in 'The Thresher'.
posted by ovvl at 4:06 AM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Last Waltz
posted by jtexman1 at 4:56 AM on July 19, 2021 [5 favorites]

Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same.
posted by Chairboy at 5:38 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Cure in Orange is a classic of the genre. Not much staging but plenty of atmosphere, from the venue onwards. For a well-shot document of a modern stadium mega-gig, the Taylor Swift Reputation concert vid on Netflix is pretty good.
posted by srednivashtar at 5:42 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Peter Gabriel knows how to put a show. Secret World Live is a good one.
posted by jeffjon at 6:54 AM on July 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Vulfpeck — Live at Madison Square Garden is one of my favorite concert films. Pure quirky power funk rock, no backstage chit-chat. There’s no fancy special effects, but the whole show is filmed in almost one continuous shot by a cameraman running around the stage, which is incredibly immersive. And there’s tons of close-ups of all the incredibly talented musicians which makes it super fun to watch.
posted by mekily at 7:30 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

proceed immediately to Hulu (or your local cineplex!) and see Summert of Soul- the Questlove directed film
from incredible archival footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.
posted by wowenthusiast at 7:41 AM on July 19, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The Talking Heads 1980 Rome performance isn't as conceptualized as Stop Making Sense, but it's a great performance and there's a rawness to the whole thing I find very appealing.

Khruangbin on record never quite does it for me, but I'm mesmerized by their live footage where you can see how a trio makes such a filigree sound. I love the Boiler Room performance.

Also catching a band just as they're breaking, Nirvana Live at the Paramount in 1991 is fantastically shot and really captures the moment.

Summer of Soul for sure! I figure that what what inspired the question, as it's the music doc of the moment.

Just single songs, but my two favorite rock performances ever caught on film:

The Monks on Beat Club, a zillion future genres crammed into two minutes

And Bo Diddly doing his title song song in 1973. One song, but I'd be happy if it went on for an hour.
posted by bendybendy at 7:48 AM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Tourfilm by REM is a lovely document of the band at its prime.
posted by MattD at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: sent this to a friwnd and got this back:
there’s a whole genre of electronic music set videos in the past few years that was pioneer by the French production group Cercle Which is basically great djs playing in wonderful places (sometimes w a crowd and sometimes not) Like this FKJ set
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Big Time, the Tom Waits concert film, is quite cinematic. You'll find it on streaming services but it's never been remastered or rereleased to my knowledge, so the quality may be suboptimal. Loaned out my VHS 25 years ago and never got it back.

Rain Dogs from Big Time.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:20 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

D. A. Pennebaker's Monteray Pop film is incredible -- particularly this Otis Redding performance
posted by Chenko at 11:47 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Grateful Dead Movie.
posted by chbrooks at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Austin City Limits has some great shows. It's a venue or studio or something (not the music festival), pretty intimate, and nice.

EDIT: you have to have a PBS membership or something. I think they might have some on Youtube though.
posted by Snowishberlin at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you are ok with YouTube and Austin City Limits, then St Vincent 2018 is a serious workout for your tv with crazy flashing lights and her creepy bandmate's costumes.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:47 PM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't seen it in years, but your question reminded me of Urgh! A Music War, with tons of one- or two-song performances by early 80s acts like the Police, XTC, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Cramps, UB40, and on and on.

The whole thing seems to be on Vimeo.
posted by Leontine at 3:25 PM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Homecoming by Beyonce, no question. I think it's still on Netflix. Beychella forever.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I really like the Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell concert film, available in full on YouTube. It's got some nice lighting and lens effects going on.

Then there's this Cigarettes After Sex Live at Ancienne Belgique concert shot in black and white, with his evocative loops from classic cinema in the background.

From ARTE, here is Rhye playing live in an empty Charles de Gaulle airport.

Finally, also from ARTE, here is an inventively shot jazz "concert" in which performers walk from one room to another, and one thing musically sort of bleeds into another. It's a bit like the old Take Away shows by La Blogothèque.
posted by edlundart at 1:25 AM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So many great responses, thank you everyone! I’m particularly excited by the ones that fall a bit outside my everyday listening habits (e.g. I don’t know much of Laurie Anderson beyond ‘Oh Superman’ and checking out the start of that show, the visuals are fabulous). ARTE and Austin City Limits look like rich resources, I might have to get a little creative to access some of their stuff (I’m in Australia).

Metafilter, you’re the best!
posted by threecheesetrees at 8:41 PM on July 21, 2021

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