Why is it that when times are tough, things like movie and concert tickets only seem to get more expensive? Well, don’t worry: We feel your financial pain. As cities across the country gear up for summers packed with free shows and screenings, we want to make sure you know that you don’t have to live in a major metropolis (or risk bug bites and butt numbness) to get your gratis film and music fix. The internet abounds with excellent music documentaries you can watch right on your computer. Check out ten of our favorites, from the Pixies to the Flaming Lips, after the jump.
RiP! A Remix Manifesto (2009) It’s only natural that you should be able to watch a documentary that takes on the issue of copyright in 21st century for free online. Brett Gaylor’s film touches base with just about every icon of the information freedom movement, from Cory Doctorow to Creative Commons. But the movie’s true star is Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk.
Les Paul – Chasing Sound! (2007) This 90-minute PBS documentary is an essential primer on the late Les Paul, and his impact on the music and recording industry.
loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies , 2006 In 2004, the legendary Pixies went on the road for a reunion tour many assumed would never happen. If you missed it (and last year’s Doolittle jaunt), this doc is required viewing.
Waiting for Something (2009) Jay Reatard’s untimely death earlier this year was a shocking blow to the independent music community. Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz’s 20-minute documentary on the inimitable punk features typically bracing performance footage along with a candid glimpse into its subject’s past and preoccupations.
Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004) Margaret Brown’s documentary about the troubled life of country visionary Townes Van Zandt compiles rare footage of the late musician’s performances, along with interviews from those he influenced, from Steve Earle to Emmylou Harris. (Watch a preview below and click through to see the entire film.)
Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution (2008) When we say this is a comprehensive take on Kraftwerk and the kraut rock scene they represented… we mean it’s three hours long. But for fans, it’s a must-watch, even if it is split into 18 parts on YouTube.
The Fearless Freaks (2005) Created by Bradley Beesley (Wayne Coyne’s former neighbor), this doc was cut from over 400 hours of Flaming Lips footage. Granted extensive access to the band, the filmmaker emerges with an intimate portrait of the long, strange trip that is the Flaming Lips’ career.
A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake (2000) Jeroen Berkvens’ film illuminates the short, sad life of Nick Drake, the incredibly talented musician who died at 26.
Dig! (2004) Ondi Timoner’s fascinating film follows the friendship and rivalry between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, focusing on the brilliant trainwreck that is BJM’s leader, Anton Newcombe. (Watch the preview below, then click through to watch the entire doc.)
Buena Vista Social Club (1999) Wim Wenders’ documentary follows Ry Cooder as he unites and records some of Cuba’s most talented and influential musicians. The must-see film even scored an Academy Award nomination.