8 More Concert Documentaries to Cure Your Concert Withdrawal: Music Festival Edition

It’s been nearly 7 months since I’ve last been to a (real, in person) concert. While the livestreamed concerts have been great, and the idea of drive-ins seems alluring (albeit too expensive for a solo attendee), nothing beats being up front at a show. Since there’s not many opportunities for that nowadays, and because the 2020 summer festival season is officially dead (R.I.P.), we might as well put on our PJ’s and embrace spending the night (or weekend) in, and reminisce by watching some good-old-fashioned festival films 😄

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert

Released earlier this year, Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert shares the history of the festival, starting with Goldenvoice’s punk shows in the 80s. The film features footage from many notable artists who have played Coachella over the years, such as Morrissey, Rage Against the Machine, The Pixies, The White Stripes, The Beastie Boys, and even Tupac’s hologram. What you may not know is that the first Coachella was a two day festival in October, the 21st anniversary of which will be this Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10. The documentary is available to watch for free on YouTube.

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music

Originally released in 1970 as simply Woodstock, this film has seen many editions: the original (1970), the 25th anniversary directors cut (1994), 40th anniversary edition (2009), and 40th anniversary directors cut (2014). Each subsequent release includes addition footage from the 1969 festival, but the original film features performances from Crosby, Stills, and Nash; The Who; Santana; Jefferson Airplane; Jimi Hendrix; Janis Joplin; and many others. The 40th anniversary editions include additional performances, including those by Creedence Clearwater Revival who were omitted from the original version. The directors cut edition also includes documentary footage covering the festival, the making of the film, and other related topics.

In 1996, the Library of Congress inducted the film into the National Film Registry for it’s cultural significance. The 2014 version of the film is available to purchase or rent from many digital media retailers, such as Apple, Google, and YouTube.

Made In America

Made In America shares the story behind Jay-Z’s first annual music festival of the same name, now held in Philadelphia every year. The film, directed by Ron Howard, features performances by Drake, Pearl Jam, Run DMC, Passion Pit, Skrillex, Janelle Monae, and others. It was screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film also aired on TV, before being acquired by Phase 4 Films. It is currently available on Tubi.

Monterey Pop

Released in 1968, Monterey Pop documents the 1967 festival. The film includes performances by The Mamas & The Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, and Ravi Shankar. ABC TV gave the film $200,000 in funding, as they were interested in a documentary of the festival for their “Movie of the Week” series. However, the film never aired on ABC, a decision made by Tom Moore who was the head of the network at the time. Lou Adler (festival organizer) says: “We showed him Jimi Hendrix fornicating with his amp and we said, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Keep the money and get out.’ He said, ‘Not on my network.’ “

In 2018, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry.

The T.A.M.I. Show / The Big T.N.T. Show

Filmed and released in 1964, The T.A.M.I. Show features performances by The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Supremes, Chuck Berry, and others. T.A.M.I. either stands for Teen Age Music International or Teenage Awards Music International, and the original concept for the project was to have teens vote for their favorite performance. Due to budget constraints, this voting never occurred. The T.A.M.I. Show was followed by The Big T.N.T. Show in 1966. Performers include Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, The Ronettes, Ike & Tina Turner, The Byrds, and others. Both films are currently (unofficially) available on YouTube.

The Festival that Never Was: Fyre

While Fyre Fest was a non-event, the two documentaries made about it (one from Netflix, and one from Hulu) still deserve a spot on the list for being an entertaining way to pass some time. If you’re not familiar, Fyre Fest was meant to be the greatest luxury destination music festival, and was advertised as “taking place on Pablo Escobar’s private island.” With far too little time and money to plan the festival, the organizers foolishly decided to forge ahead rather than cancel. The day of the festival, hundreds of attendees flew in, and were greeted with completely lacking accommodations. Needless to say the show did not go on, but it did make for these entertaining documentaries. While the lack of concerts and festivals this year is truly tragic, at least we aren’t stuck on an unfamiliar island with naught but disaster tents and cheese sandwiches.


Miss the first 10 concert documentaries we recommended? Check it out!

What concert films have you been watching lately? Let us know in the comments!

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