For those about to rock, we salute you. With fans continuing to go through withdrawals from not being able to attend concerts during the pandemic, Long Live Rock… Celebrate The Chaos is here to slake their thirst.
The documentary celebrates the hard rock culture via the live experience. Filmed at various rock festivals throughout the U.S., including Louder Than Life in Louisville, Ky., and the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, Calif., the movie features interviews with members of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Korn, Slipknot, Halestorm, Greta Van Fleet and more, as well as talking to fans — and even former Ohio governor John Kasich — about their passion.
“A big part of what the film captures is the energy, the urgency and the chaos of a massive rock concert,” producer Gary Spivack tells Billboard. “So until we can all be shoulder to shoulder in a large grass field rocking out together, hopefully it will help ease the pain.”
The 80-minute film, distributed worldwide by Abramorama, will have its global premiere March 11 at 8 p.m. ET with a pre-order price of $9.99. Tickets are available at LongLiveRockMovie.com. The launch will include a Q&A with the filmmakers, musicians and other guests. The viewing price starting March 12 is $12. The official trailer debuts below.
Director and producer Jonathan McHugh grew up going to hard rock shows and was eager to capture the excitement he experienced from his teenage years that he has witnessed reborn in recent years. “Coming of age in the late ’70s in NYC, I was lucky enough to get to see legends like Led Zeppelin, Kiss and Black Sabbath in their prime,” he says. “Their live energy was so addictive and I didn’t really feel that again until seeing Metallica and Rage Against the Machine in the ’90s. In making this film we wanted to capture the community of the bands that make this music while highlighting the fans that live to bang their heads, mosh and crowd surf along with it. Their commitment to the genre and level of passion is what we really wanted to highlight.”
The film follows a group of fervent fans, who, united through the music, meet at various hard rock festivals every year. They include a corrections officer, who befriends one of his former inmates through the festivals; a trauma nurse who uses the music’s frenetic energy to relieve her stress; and a wheelchair-bound woman who finds community in crowd-surfing during high-octane shows.
“The main takeaway is that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. These are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet,” McHugh says. “They are just hardworking, lunch pail, meat-and-potatoes people who need this music to get through it. The symbiotic relationship between these bands and their fans totally blew me away and I hope that translates in the film.”
Ideally, the movie would have played “big and loud in cinemas,” says McHugh, who declined to reveal the documentary’s budget. However, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered those plans. “We had our first public screening last February at the Grammy Museum [in Los Angeles] and we were looking forward to playing in theaters all across the globe,” he says. “But the idea of waiting any longer just didn’t make any sense. With no live shows and music festivals for over a year, people really need to rock. When our distributor, Abramorama, picked up our film, we collectively decided to go for it now at what would be the start of festival season.”
Though unintentionally tying in with the political buzz word of the day, Long Live Rock centers on unity. “As Lars of Metallica said in the film, “A rock festival is a place of solidarity.” Meaning, you can check your political views, how much money you make, where you live and all of that at the front door,” Spivack says.
And as for the pundits who declare that rock is dead, Spivack says, not so fast: ”When you see 100,000 plus [people] over a weekend going to a multi-stage multi-band rock show, be it in Ohio, California or Florida or wherever, then it’s pretty damn obvious that Gene Simmons is wrong. Rock is not dead. Far from it. Sure, it may not grab the headline or produce the latest TikTok sensation, but there is a legion of supporters, of all shapes and sizes, that love this style of rock music. We wanted to capture that.”