Just Like Being There

Just Like Being There

Directed by: Scout Shannon
98 minutes

East Coast Premiere

It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Still, apart from forming a band, how does one best express the passion and emotion of being at a live show? For a growing number of artists, the answer is to create silkscreened posters. After all, the handcrafting of these pieces is analogous to the hauling of gear, and the smell of the ink is like the smell of stale beer at the clubs. The work is so symbiotic that fans of bands like Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and Death Cab for Cutie are as avid about collecting their gig posters as they are about attending the gigs themselves.

In Scout Shannon’s absorbing documentary, we embark on a voyage to meet the key talent in the growing community creating screen-printed posters for the indie music scene. Their works of modern folk art not only promote bands, but stand as vibrant reminders of the performances’ ephemeral nature. Like the shows they commemorate, the posters don’t last: after the initial run is sold, there are no more.

The story of gig posters would be incomplete without the gigs, and JUST LIKE BEING THERE supplies riveting performances by Tokyo Police Club, Archers of Loaf, and others. Shannon nimbly balances the movement’s context, from its inception, with an introduction to the pantheon of the industry’s most talented artists. This portrait reveals that, although these passionate individuals were initially inspired by others’ works, they and their pieces stand for a unique creative vision.

—Brian Tamm