“Songs Fpr Cassavetes” departs from the usual DVD format of live concerts or MTV type video collections and presents a documentary of American underground music. Using 16 mm B&W film lends an even darker, more gritty feel to the video. A foray into the past studies the punk band influence on current Indie artists. The bands are the “tape on the glasses, nerdy clothes, gawky movement, jumping around” bands vs. the more polished representation of bands even as radical as the Sex Pistols and Black Flag.
With a combination of narration, interviews and actual performances, the film covers all the bases of underground rock. The bands represented include Sleater-Kinney, Tullycraft, Unwound, Henry’s Dress, The Peechees, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Further, The Hi-Fives and The Make Up. At the risk of pissing off fans of any of these bands, the music didn’t impress me a bit. I found the music mediocre and the stage performances completely interchangeable. I couldn’t tell one band from the next without the liner notes, because they all looked and sounded the same. On the other hand, the documentary narration and live interviews were very interesting, tracing the history of underground music from small club to small club. The loyal cult following of the music and bands is well documented as well. If you have an interest in underground rock, and it’s history, you should enjoy this 90 minute film about it.