During the beginning of last night’s nation-wide screening of The Chemical Brothers’ Don’t Think, the first half hour of the mind-blowing, subsonic experience that was the 2 hour concert documentary, my time was spent thinking “How do I stop from hyperbolizing about this in the morning?”. This morning I decided that I didn’t have to.
So, firstly, I’ll ask, for the benefit of others like myself, who as awkward teenagers had to endure being mocked by friends every time Eminem spouted off the line “Nobody listens to techo!” during “Without Me”s long, painful radio run, what happened to that guy’s edge? Career? Anybody? Now, secondly, since the days zit-covered, awkward allergen magnets like myself first glimpsed the visual ride that is the video for setting Setting Sun on an otherwise grunge-laden channel called MTV, the cultural upheaval, or the hippy revival, depending which side of the electronic duo’s ouvre you’re standing on, that was the late 90′s explosion of dance seems to have finally become the immovable touchstone for everything from rock music production to film music supervision.
Helped in large part by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons‘ own brilliant soundtrack contribution to 2011′s Hanna, last night’s screening of their latest performance at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival boasted, not only, a large audience, but, one that was engaged, willing to shake it right there in their seats, and yell unabashedly at the movie screen emphatically enough that during certain moments you might think the documentary was a caper staring Bruce Willis or Jason Statham. Putting aside for a second the spectacular stage visuals created by the film’s own director Adam Smith and the spontaneous circus-themed cutaway vignettes shot outside the concert’s grounds, the enthusiasm of my fellow viewers speaks volumes about how much the Brothers have done to push their beloved genre through to a wider, globally appreciated arena. The fact that the theatrical audience cared enough to observe the Japanese audience’s in-person reactions to the show and resultantly cheer for the various embodiments of joy, anticipation, giddyness, and fear on their filmed-counterpart’s faces, emphasizes that much more that the joyful experience of sound can create connections among the most distant contexts.
Happy and enthralled in their own creative output, much of the footage in Don’t Think allows for a glimpse into the two performers’ own on-stage “surrender”. At various points during the set Rowlands is captured singing along to a vocal sample he himself is queuing into the mix, while Simons often walks away from his gear on occasion in order to just cheer along with the audience. At other points in Think, the bursting LED visuals behind the Brothers appear close to consuming them in flames and the energy of their performance sometimes even threatens to dislocate the whole venue from planet Earth so as to take off into outer space. The Chemical Brothers and their long-time visual collaborator, Smith has been creating live video for the band’s since 1994, pardon the pun, don’t hold back at any moment in order to make sure that 360 experience they’ve waited 18 years to be able to commit to video is a justified expression of all the joy and energy that’s been building up within The Chemical Brothers’ repertoire.
Well timed and much needed in creatively plateaued times such as these, Don’t Think is a ride and a statement about how determination, the faith to wait and spend your time simply working for the good stuff you believe, eventually provides the right moment for your unique idea to change the world.
Overseas audiences will have a chance to experience a two decade long moment come full circle tomorrow night, February 3rd, when the film screens in cities all over the UK and everyone will be able feel big bursts of exuberance when Don’t Think is out on DVD later this year.