Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The overriding message of the two trailers that I've seen for the movie about the Meligrove Band, which is being screened this week for the first time in Toronto, at the North By Northeast music festival, is one that's not at all uncommon in the world of indie rock and roll. It's a world that is filled with folks who are making music for all of the best reasons. Many of these folks - as we run into a lot of them on a daily basis - are some of the finest people you're liable to ever meet. They're the kinds of people who will give you a place to stay if you need one, having known you for little more than a few minutes. They're the kinds of people who just want you to have their record, to listen to the songs that they wrote in their basement. They're the kinds of people who love ideas, art, sounds, traveling, people and good hugs. They appreciate beds when they can find them and they're always up for old Nintendo and Sega video games, along with one last beer and finishing that deep conversation you all were having late night. They're people who are usually broke as all hell and pounding against the odds to keep doing what they're doing, banging their heads against the wall and trying to keep everyone in the band invigorated enough to not give up the ghost too soon.
The overriding message of "Ages & Stages" (directed by Brendan McCarney and produced by Last Frame Pictures), it seems, is that it's hard as fuck to try and keep being a band, when the living being made from it is such a poor one, but it's amazing what all of it still means to so many people and it's amazing to see how many friends you've made - if you're some of the good ones - and how crazy much they're rooting for you. It's easy to see why the makers of this documentary were able to get over 35 other bands (including Pink Eyes from Fucked Up and members of Tokyo Police Club) on camera to say great things about the Meligrove Band.
It's a group that slips on a song so easily. It's precise and moody rock and roll that chronicle the rainy, lonely nights of hearts in those wonderful ways that make it hurt so good. Lead singer Jason Nunes sings, "I must have died a hundred times/But I'm still breathing," at one point, and you wonder exactly what he's singing about, but then realize that it's any number of things and that seems better to chew on anyway. He adds elsewhere, "We'll do what we can with these emotions," and a lot of that is just controlling them. A lot of that is just not letting those damned emotions get the better of them.