Ashes of American Flags, Wilcos live concert film and documentary, portrays a reality that is almost the antithesis of the typical glamorized rock-and-roll road picture. In the place of sex-crazed groupies and stylized drug-binge montages, we see the band icing up sore limbs and necks after strenuous performances, eating chips and salsa in grimy roadside restaurants, and taking Polaroid photos of down-and-out parts of the towns they play in. Instead of solipsistic and self-serving mythologizing by the bandmembers, we get their remarkably insightful and endearing thoughts on the reality of being a touring entity and affectionate descriptions of each other as friends and musicians.
These slice-of-road-life moments are the glue that holds together some excellent live footage from Wilcos 2008 tour. This is a band with a reputation for powerful, exciting and soul-baring shows, and the film manages to capture it all in fine style. Documenting an act that combines down-home Americana with heady space rock and almost-jam-band-styled improvisation in just ninety minutes of live footage intercut with interviews is a tall order, but director and producer Brendan Canty and Christoph Green pull it off with seeming ease. The result is a powerful portrait of one of the best rock bands of the modern era at the peak of its power, as well as a forceful argument that rock and roll still matters.
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The film screens tonight at 8 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder; doors open at 7::30. For tickets, $12, and information, visit www.bouldertheater.com or call 303-786-7030.
Wed., April 8, 7:30 p.m., 2009