The Rashomon Of Rock

by Dish Staff

A new documentary from Jeff Krulik, whose 1986 film Heavy Metal Parking Lot remains a cult classic, turns the camera on a concert that may never have happened:

It’s Jan. 20, 1969, the day of President Nixon’s inauguration. At a suburban Maryland gymnasium, a band starts playing to a crowd of about 50 teens. That group’s name: Led Zeppelin. This story is just too crazy to be true, right?

Maybe not. In his new documentary, Led Zeppelin Played Here, director Jeff Krulik tries to get to the bottom of this legend by talking to some musicians, writers and local fans who don’t believe the concert happened … and others who swear they saw them.

Richard Metzger digs the film:

What I loved about Krulik’s charming, low key film is that the whole mystery of this did-it-or-did-it-not occur spur of the moment Led Zeppelin show is something that he uncovered while making a film about something else entirely. The Rashomon-like onscreen narrative becomes quite intriguing as the viewer goes along with the filmmaker on his fact finding mission, Krulik serving as a dogged rock snob gumshoe on the trail of this elusive and either legendary—or apocryphal—Led Zeppelin show. In the end, we’re left to decide for ourselves if this concert actually took place or not, his Columbo with a MOJO subscription sleuthing having provided no definitive answers.

What Krulik had to say while working on the film in 2011:

I do hope to present a strong case [that] the concert happened. It’s a mystery worth solving/explaining. And I personally believe it did happen. We just live in such a proof driven/conspiracy theory/immediate info society now that people doubt these unbelievable claims unless there’s concrete example, i.e. ticket stub, photo, diary entry. Nothing has turned up yet, and will likely not turn up. This was a hastily assembled concert on an off night, a rainy, cold Monday in January ‘69, and the band was new and hoofing it, taking whatever gig they could.

Watch Krulik’s 30-minute Heavy Metal Parking Lot below:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whZuz5Dwtw8]

How Zambia Rocks

by Dish Staff

Chris A. Smith navigates the tumultuous political history of post-independence Zambia through the prism of Zamrock, the 1970s psychedelic rock scene that produced bands like The Witch (an acronym for “We Intend to Cause Havoc”), heard above. Smith describes The Witch’s sound as “incendiary, all crystalline guitar lines and supple rhythms, topped by [singer] Jagari’s plaintive voice”:

Zamrock was the energetic sound of a nation that had just thrown off the British colonial yoke. Though Zambia is now one of the poorest countries in the world, at independence it had the second highest GDP on the continent thanks to its copper industry. Zambians expected great things—prosperity, modernization, and equal standing with the West. With its fuzzed-out guitars, propulsive beats, and cosmopolitan outlook, Zamrock provided the soundtrack to this hoped-for future.

That future never arrived. Instead the country was brought low by a series of crises, external and internal, that would render it a ward of the international community by the 1980s. The Zamrock scene, devastated by economic collapse, the AIDS epidemic, and changing musical trends, withered and died.

Last summer, Jagari, once Zambia’s biggest rock star, made his debut concert appearance in North America:

In San Francisco, Jagari opens for the indie beatmaker and DJ Madlib, and the nightclub is packed. Most of the crowd probably doesn’t know who he is, but they go nuts anyway. In response, Jagari turns back the clock. He jumps and screams, flirts and teases, runs in place like Mick Jagger and duckwalks like Chuck Berry. The closer, “October Night”—a song about the band’s 1974 arrest for playing too loud—sprawls into a nine-minute, Latin-infused space jam. He exits the stage, and it feels like a triumph. … He is philosophical about his late resurgence. “I had hoped for this much earlier,” he says. “But that’s the human point of view. God saw it differently. He was grooming me for the challenge.”

(Video: The Witch performs on 1975’s Lazy Bones)