Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Premiere of New American Noise

January 19, 2013 / Mike Abu

Watching the first flick at a film festival is like watching an opening band—it sets the mood. If it’s no good, everything feels tainted. It’s a matter of precedence. Nobody before 3 A.M. wants to see a B movie fit for a Redbox. Being forced to suffer through something as garbage as The Postman is an incredibly hard thing to stomach, and that’s not easy to forget.

Lucky enough, our first film was spectacular.

New American Noise was actually a series of short films that highlighted the work of six filmmakers from six different cities documenting local music scenes. When screened back to back, the shorts provided a thermostat on the state of music in America. Although America is a country that spans thousands of miles across an entire continent, and the geographical isolation manifests itself in each of the states artistic communities, each one of these short vignette’s show that there’s something unmistakably American about each and every one of them.

The films ranged from some of the weirdly abrasive music coming out of Portland to the rebirth of underground hip-hop in Brooklyn. Atlanta’s scene was completely tied to strip clubs, and Detroit proved itself to be alive inside their house parties. The Los Angeles film highlighted a dance artist trying to be himself, a nonchalant task from the looks of it, while the short from New Orleans was busting at the seams with bounce. The series crossed the spectrum, but it all had one defining quality—people defined by their home towns, desperate to express who they are and where they’re from.

If I had one negative thing to say about it all, it was the inability to capture every scene. There just wasn’t enough time to show what’s coming out of Columbus, OH all the way to Marfa, TX. The world should probably know what’s happening in Tuscaloosa, and it’s about time we take a left turn at Albuquerque. Mainstream music might make us feel like the soul is gone, but This American Noise is a fresh reminder that rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well–you just have to be smart enough to find it.

photos by: David Trujillo

#detroit #portland #atlanta #sundance #brooklyn #los angeles