Published Oct 01, 2004Winner of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize, Dig! is the story of the Dandy Warhols' rise to fame and the Brian Jonestown Massacre's rise to infamy. Filmed over a seven-year period and selected from over 1,500 hours of footage, this is an intimate observation of two bands striving to survive and make it big on completely different terms.
Narrated by Dandys front-man Courtney Taylor, Dig! is mainly interested in exploring the madness of BJM mastermind Anton Newcombe. Known as one of underground rock's most prolific and misunderstood geniuses, Newcombe is captured at his most vulnerable, self-destructive and comical moments. The film begins in 1995 as the two bands are releasing their first records and making, what they feel will be, a joint effort to start a musical revolution. As the years go by it becomes apparent that the Dandys' career is progressing while Newcombe and his revolving door line-up halts at a standstill. These different roads eventually sever whatever friendship existed and BJM's sour attitude turns the bond into a bitter competition.
While the subject matter will be instantly attractive to those familiar with the two bands, Dig! is not simply made for the fans. As it already proved at Sundance, this is a very likeable documentary with some amazing footage of surviving the rock'n'roll game, not to mention the outrageous lifestyle and antics of a true eccentric. Known as a ticking time bomb, Newcombe has instigated numerous fights onstage with audiences and his own band members, an act that is caught on camera to the fullest and most entertaining extent. His grand illusions as a self-proclaimed rock'n'roll prophet are scattered throughout, and while they may seem absurd (i.e., playing a ten-hour gig), you have to give him credit for sticking to his vision (something the Dandys failed to do).
I can't help but admit that my own unpleasant post-gig confrontation with Newcombe helped fuel my interest in this film, but anyone interested in seeing a delightfully chaotic account of music's best rivalry since Blur and Oasis will find this just as riveting. (Interloper)