Monday, November 13, 2006

Kiefer Sutherland, Not Quite King of the Road

Hoping to get a behind-the-scenes look at an unknown band, I watched VH1's Rock Doc, I Trust You To Kill Me, which aired over the weekend. Somehow, this documentary of the struggling group, Rocco DeLuca and The Burden, ended up being more about big star Kiefer Sutherland, their self-appointed (and somewhat inept) road manager. I guess I should've seen that one coming.

I have to admit right up front that I couldn't get through the entire two hours. I lost interest after about an hour or so. It wasn't because the band wasn't good. In fact, I enjoyed the music quite a bit. They're a talented bunch, especially frontman Rocco who plays a mean dobro and sounds a bit like Jeff Buckley mixed with Lindsey Buckingham. They've got a nice blues-rock sound and are undoubtedly passionate about what they're doing. Rocco just came off a bit too much like those pretentious artists who brood a lot, drink a lot more and speak softly of their "craft" and "integrity."

For example, the boys were all pretty bummed out after their first gig at a London bar called The Borderline, where the crowd didn't seem to be responding fervently enough. After some drinking and pouting, Rocco suggested that the audience may not have been engaged early on because of the arrangement of the set list. It was more of a "gradual build" that he thought took too long to peak for some folks. Then he mumbled something about how he wouldn't adjust the set list just to please everyone because he's an artist and he has a vision, blah blah blah. Oh, come on. I understand a musician not wanting to compromise on lyrics, music, or a style of performing in order to cater to the masses. But we're talking about learning how to put on a live show that people will pay money to see. It's not a rock opera. The songs don't have to be in a particular order. Kicking off a live show with an uptempo song that immediately grabs people is hardly a sell-out move. It's a smart one. It's a no-brainer. But if Rocco chooses not to do that, he'd better get used to a lot more audiences like the one at The Borderline. Oddly enough, something as simple as changing his set list strikes Rocco as a mark on his musical integrity, yet he was willing to take part in a VH1 (mainstream media -eek!) documentary that wouldn't even have seen the light of day if it weren't for the involvement of his super-famous buddy, Kiefer Sutherland. Lesson learned? Giving fans what they want is lame. Using famous friends to get what you want is hip.

The other reason that I didn't fully enjoy this documentary was that it was too Kiefer-centric. After watching it, I really don't know that much about the band, but now I know all about Kiefer's troubled childhood, his inner demons and his obvious fondness for alcohol. At certain times, I really liked him in this. In the segments that focused on his love of music and his dedication to Rocco's band, he came off as very genuine. Listening to him talk, I had no doubt that music was and is a huge part of Kiefer's life, and I actually felt a kinship with him when he spoke about how certain songs or artists have had a profound impact on him. I've never been a giant fan of Kiefer's, but his appreciation and support of music made me like him a lot more. His willingness to walk around the streets of Dublin, handing out free tickets to ensure a packed house, was quite endearing. However, there were plenty of times when he just seemed like a self-absorbed Hollywood actor trying to be oh-so-very metaphysical about his involvement in the indie music scene. When he said things like, "Sometimes you have to go through something to find out why you did it," all I could do was try to think of other things so that my brain wouldn't explode while trying to process such a deep statement. Readers, I trust you to kill me if I ever say anything so ridiculous.

There was one especially intriguing character in this film, whose presence I couldn't figure out. At every show, there was someone in a bunny costume dancing around. It wasn't a creepy bunny; it was a cute one like the Easter bunnies you see at the mall. VH1 should do a documentary about the bunny. Who is the bunny? What drives the bunny? How bad does that person inside the hot bunny suit smell? Now, that's a show I would watch all the way through.


Writeprocrastinator said...

I don't get furries, especially bunnies. It's just something I cannot fathom on any level.

I glanced at "I Trust You To Kill Me" on another blog and I thought it was a put-on, a Spinal Tap, if you will.

How would Kiefer have the time with a TV series and movies to film? I mean, it takes a lot of time to be a manager and you have to get your hands dirty at some point.

BTW, I changed the link, I hope you like it

The Everglades said...

Believe it or not I've never seen 24, in part because I disdain Kiefer. I'm sure I would have felt the same way about this doc as you did.

By the way, do you remember our debate about John Travolta? That was so much fun.


Anonymous said...

I had heard of this, but did not have a chance to see it.. I like 24 alot... Keifer is good in it- but I am not a huge fan overall

Les Becker said...

I have always adored Kiefer Sutherland (and his Canadian dad, of course), but strangely, have never watched 24.

Now I really, really wanna watch this movie. Just for the bunny, though.

Anonymous said...

I have always had this thing for Keifer Sutherland. It lost momentum after Flatliners but never disappeared. Curiously, I have seen 24 but didn't care much for it. I figured it couldn't last that long; after all, it's only 24 hours, right? But what do I know?!

I want to know more about the elusive bunny!

Happy Villain said...

I've never disliked Kiefer Sutherland, but I've never really liked him either. He's one of those people who looks like he smells really bad -- combo of ashtray, stale alcohol and sweat sock. Everyone loves John Cusack, but I think he looks like he smells bad too. One day maybe I'll get a real whiff of these celebrities and find out how accurate I am.

Gee, that sounds really weird, doesn't it?

I just cannot stand when people smell like ass. And sometimes, I can't get past that.


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