Above & Beyond: Giving Up The Day Job (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Fans of Above & Beyond are going to absolutely love this. A crisp, clean, well-made document to the band's groundbreaking 2016 tour and performance at the iconic Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in Los Angeles.
So the soundtrack is pretty terrific, if you like contemporary dance and EDM-style music.
This is a well-made movie, not a slapdash, thrown-together mess.
If you are unfamiliar with Above & Beyond, this movie is not really going to be for you.
Leaves non-fans out of the conversation. And the movie loses interest really fast without time spent trying to draw potential new fans into the fold.
Even fans of music-oriented documentaries are going to be frustrated that more time is not spent on the craftsmanship of rewriting electronic songs for orchestral-driven performances. Or time spent getting to know the guys in the band. Or time spent explaining why The Hollywood Bowl is such a significant moment for them. And on and on...
After landing their biggest debut ever on the Billboard 200 album chart this past January, veteran EDM trio Above & Beyond are now casting an eye towards the multiplex. Their concert film-slash-documentary hybrid, Above & Beyond: Giving Up the Day Job is rolling out in theaters in the spring of 2018 and documents the group’s preparations, and subsequent performance, at the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in May 2016.
Directed by Myles Desenberg and Paul Dugdale, this is a film made for Above & Beyond’s loyal fanbase, a fact underscored by the lack of identifying title cards and descriptors on the band members or the song’s being performed.
The trio, consisting of veteran musicians Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki, do briefly discuss how they formed in the late 1990s, at a time when EDM music was called “Techno,” and dance music was categorized with a number of sub-genres, such as trance, house, ambient, and various other formats.
Amiable and sounding a bit humble, the guys seem genuinely nervous and anxious to play a venue which has housed everyone from The Doors to Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, Elton John, Alicia Keys, and countless jazz vocalists, numerous opera singers and symphony orchestras.
The Hollywood Bowl performance comes during an “acoustic” tour, where the guys replace their keyboards, mixing boards, and DJ stations with pianos, guitars, percussion, and a live orchestra. Reworking their tracks into orchestral compositions, we see the group working on arrangements and then performing them at the venue.
However, that’s kind of all this is. And again, for fans of Above & Beyond, and of their two “Acoustic” albums, this will be the easiest movie they watch all year. For those of us with a passing knowledge of their work, or completely unfamiliar with their discography, Giving Up the Day Job has no real entry point.
Cinematic and stylish in presentation, the trio is closing in on two decades together as a band in a genre where only a select number of performers can survive multiple albums and years in the spotlight. While contemporary Top 40 radio has never looked their way, there is no doubt that these are three guys who have worked extremely hard to cultivate a dedicated and loyal group of fans.
And they are gonna love this.
For the rest of us, while we can appreciate the impact Above & Beyond’s music and presentation has to a most devout following, beyond that, the film leaves us on the outside looking in, eventually snuffing out any interest we have in witnessing a close-knit community not all that interested in recruiting new members.
And that's a bummer, because everyone seems to be having a really great time.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, Paavo Siljamäki.
Director: Myles Desenberg, Paul Dugdale
Release Date: February 7, 2018