Long Live Rock… Celebrate the Chaos is a bold and bruising documentary that celebrates what has truly kept the spirit of rock n’ roll alive: the fans. With interviews from Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and many, many more, any rock n’ roll aficionado can appreciate the pure passion for the music herein on display. The documentary uses the Rock on the Range festival in Ohio as a lightning rod to reveal how deep this music truly runs with the fans, plus the strength of the bond among the audience.
The movie opens with Gene Simmons of KISS proclaiming, “Rappers are the new rock stars” and discussing the idea, along with many other critics, that “rock is dead.” In reality, the fans haven’t gone anywhere, and, especially when it comes to live music, rock is still a major draw for audiences around the world.
The documentary focuses on the true sense of community that ties together every fan (and artist) within the genre by rooting them in a sense of surreal connection. We may all come from everywhere, we may travel from all over, but we all have the eternal torch of rock n’ roll blazing through all of us. In our hearts, in our dreams, within our memories.
The movie also recounts some of the amazing tales of ordinary fans with extraordinary stories that will help reshape the perceptions surrounding the stereotypes of heavy metal fans. People think of Metalheads as greasy waste-cases who work dead-end jobs with no life outside of throwing their horns in the air. In reality, these people are dentists, correctional officers, surgeons, rehab trauma nurses, teachers, and so much more than the image we all have of Otto, the burnt-out Bus Driver from The Simpsons.
This documentary gets personal with a lot of the fans and pulls back the curtain on who is really keeping rock music alive; By tapping into the tribalistic communities who come together to celebrate being alive and all of the different feelings that come with it through the intense, raw, primal energy that flows through this music.
The film breaks down a lot of fundamental elements of Rock n’ Roll from an anthropological standpoint, but it also looks at some of the psychological benefits that being a part of the Heavy Metal community provides. Beyond making new friends and revelling in new shared experiences, the movie also examines how Rock music provides listeners with an outlet for emotional catharsis to help them deal with their feelings by immersing themselves in them rather than burying them. Rather than getting purely lost in the mysticism of the imagery, the music itself can help listeners confront their inner demons rather than trying to bury them or pretend that they don’t exist.
The pure adrenaline-fuelled insanity pulsating through a crowd with that level of kinetic energy is an unparalleled experience unlike any other on Earth that reminds everyone that they’re not alone and they never will be. Not as long as the power of this music continues to be passed down among the fans from parents to their children, among friends, and celebrated by artists.
Although rock may take many forms, it still remains one of the most diverse fan bases to this day in terms of gender, multi-culturalism, people with disabilities, and the list goes on, all because of the rebellious nature within the spirit of the music itself. Everyone knows what it’s like to be an outcast, but not everyone knows what it’s like to develop such a strong bond to an international community shared through the arts at this level for this amount of time.
One thing the movie does incredibly well is it humanizes a lot of the artists who are interviewed to show everyone that despite their larger-than-life persona onstage, they’re still human beings who have to deal with a lot of the same problems as their fans. They also discuss how their humanity is what helps them create art that brings people together, which is a thing of beauty.
Rock continues to be a pop culture phenomenon, and even though pop culture continues to change, grow, and hopefully evolve, Rock remains a strong refuge for millions of fans around the world every day. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’re into, there’s an entire world waiting for you to discover it populated by people who love music and self-expression so much that there’s a place for anyone in Rock N’ Roll.
The legacy of Rock N’ Roll lives on among the fans and Rock and Metal fans are among the most die-hard people the music industry has ever seen since it began. Is rock dead? Not with this many fans keeping it alive through pure love and dedication to all that is heavy in spirit, in attitude, and onstage.
The truth is that no matter how much the world changes, people will always need one another, and rock music continues to bring people together around the world in an irreplaceable way.
Director: Jonathan McHugh
Production: Crowd Surf Films
Release Date: March 12, 2021, via Virtual Cinemas
Run Time: 83 minutes