Chances are you may not have heard of a band called The Brian Jonestown Massacre. This is thanks largely to their egotistical, self destructive, yet undeniably talented front man, Anton Newcombe. He managed to be the band's creative driving force and yet also the ticking bomb that repeatedly blew them apart. This fascinating documentary follows the band's repeated efforts to revolutionise rock 'n' roll across seven eventful years, alongside fellow group and friends, The Dandy Warhols.

Narrated by The Dandy's front man Courtney Taylor, the film begins at the early stages of both bands' small-time gigging, drawn together out of mutual respect and passion for each other's music. It's evident from the footage of these stage performances which has the higher potential for mainstream success. Despite his obvious talents and prolific song writing, Anton's volatile temperament and desire to control every aspect of The Massacre's output, results in regular on-stage arguments and fights with other band members... occasionally the audience, too!

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Anton comes across as a generally unlikeable person. His self-proclaimed genius and unpredictable behaviour is amplified by an increasing heroin addiction, which is understandably off putting for potential record companies, brave enough to stick with them. The Dandy Warhols soon begin to experience more success and the friendship between the bands is tested.

In 1996, The Dandys sign to Capitol and although their progress is initially slow, they begin to leave The Brian Jonestown Massacre way behind. Friendly competitiveness soon turns into bitter rivalry and the bands find new ways to dig at each other, utilising song lyrics and titles to voice their insults.

Whether you've heard of them, or not, DiG! is an energetic, insightful look into the dysfunctional, drug fuelled world of the modern pop musician. Its portrayal of the gigs, rehearsals, arguments and partying is refreshingly honest. The raw footage, which increases in quality as the film progresses through the years, is interspliced to great effect with various talking heads - band members, managers, record company suits, et al. Particularly fascinating is an interview with Anton's alcoholic father, who killed himself on his son's birthday, shortly after being filmed.

Though slightly overlong, DiG! is an engaging and gritty documentary, a must for all music fans.

Reviewed on: 28 Nov 2005
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Two bands turn from friends to rivals as they struggle to make it big in the Nineties rock scene.
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Director: Ondi Timoner

Writer: Ondi Timoner

Starring: Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor, Joel Gion, Matt Hollywood, Peter Holmstrom, Zia McCabe, Brent DeBoer

Year: 2004

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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