Face the Music | 2017 | 85 minutes
Stranger Says: With relations between the United States and Cuba on the rise, the Caribbean-inspired dancehall band Major Lazer decide to hold a concert for their newly accessible fans in Havana. What they discover when they get there may forever wreck the concept of personal-space bubbles. No great shakes as a music documentary, really, with a first half full of pleasant yet unrevealing looks at the band’s roots. Once the concert actually begins, however, the sheer size of the audience, and the way that the visibly startled performers feed off of its collective energy, is honestly something to see. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Says:A young Cuban woman plays around on her MP3 player and laments, “I live in a city that is stuck in time, all the noises are old”: So begins Austin Peters’ Major Lazer concert doc. The trio of musicians―Dipo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire―pride themselves on touring nontraditional areas such as Jakarta and Islamabad with their dancers and ever-growing family of collaborators. The focus of the doc is Major Lazer’s now-legendary Havana concert. Taking place in the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform, a venue where various anti-American rallies had been held over the years, Major Lazer’s performance to a crowd of nearly 500,000 rightfully feels like so much more than just an EDM show. Peters beautifully weaves stories of Cuban youth and the politics of information-sharing in the 21st century around local performances and concert footage. As Major Lazer’s album titles suggest, “Peace Is the Mission” and “Music Is the Weapon,” and once the group takes the stage in front of half a million, the goal is felt―and is truly a sight that must be experienced to understand.