Coming to theatres today, Thursday, February 27: AS THE PALACES BURN
Don Argott’s band profile-turned-courtroom drama made its world premiere earlier this month at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre. SpectiCast releases the doc worldwide for a series of largely one-night-only events tomorrow.
Originally commissioned to profile the popular metal band Lamb of God and their fans as they toured around the world, Don Argott found himself having to switch gears unexpectedly when lead singer Randy Blythe is arrested halfway through the tour upon arriving in Prague. At the band’s last concert in the Czech Republic, two years ago, a young fan died after sustaining injuries trying to stage dive, and Blythe is being held responsible, though the authorities made no effort to contact him or the band in the intervening two years. Despite posting bail, Blythe is not released from prison, and faces up to a decade in prison if found guilty, a situation which inspires Lamb of God’s legion of fans, and fellow celebrity musicians, to petition for his return to the States. In a case of being in the right place at the right time, Argott is able to use Blythe’s unfortunate predicament to craft a much more intriguing film than the one he set out to make, but one still informed by the footage he’d already shot highlighting the band’s impact on their admirers, as, at the center of the courtroom drama that develops is the spectre of one of those fans, the young man who lost his life. Interesting in its exploration of an initially Kafka-esque foreign justice system, and successful in making the viewer root for Blythe, the circumstances of the change in focus make it difficult for Argott to really individuate the band members or to more fully develop Blythe, beyond establishing that the once out-of-control singer has been clean and sober for some time. Still, it remains an intriguing enough stranger than fiction story that is able to resonate beyond the band’s core fanbase.