When: Thu., May 15, 9:30 p.m. 2014
Some records are preordained to become masterpieces, or at least made by groups and labels that spend a lot of money and exert a lot of effort trying to do so: Bands rent mountainside chateaus and convert them into studios or fly big-name producers into nowhere towns, rent expensive gear with links to sessions by bygone heroes or recruit gospel choirs and orchestras for that necessary bit of final gusto. But Slint's Spiderland was not one of those records: Made by four awkward kids from Kentucky in a sleep-deprived Chicago binge, Spiderland was conceived in basements and executed on the cheap. The band never toured behind the album, essentially breaking up upon its release and disintegrating into a series of question marks and vaguely related projects.
Still, in spite of the quartet's best efforts to keep its masterwork ignored, Spiderland eventually became a boulder dropped into still rock 'n' roll waters, its ripples expanding even more than two decades later. Post-rock is practically an extension of its six tracks, while heavy metal, harsh noise and even the indie fare of bands from Young Widows to The Men betray the impact of those chime-and-churn guitars and tempestuous song structures.
Last month, Touch & Go reissued Spiderland in a monstrous but rather limited box set, which sold out with speed despite a lofty price tag. But the true jewel of the collection, still accessible through free screenings like this one, is Breadcrumb Trail, a poignant and heartfelt documentary from director Lance Bangs about the formation, fall and subsequently strange rise of his friends in Slint. It offers not only a charming look at the hyper-local way that the indie rock cottage industry once functioned but also the shadowy personalities that afforded Slint its musical frisson—and eventually split the band at the seams. Bittersweet and personal, Breadcrumb Trail is one of the best music documentaries of the still-young decade. —Grayson Haver Currin