Taking a look at the L.A. music scene and the Kiss or Kill promotion in particular during the 00’s, In Heaven There Is No Beer is a documentary by Dave Palamaro. Review after the jump.
Being an Englishman who has never been to Los Angeles before, I had never heard of Kiss or Kill or the bands that used to play there on a regular basis, yet I found this 90 minute documentary compelling. In Heaven There Is No Beer takes a look at a weekly band night called Kiss or Kill that was formed in 2002 to fill the hole left behind when Mr T’s Bowling club was closed down by a Fire Marshall for being hazardous due to overcrowding and dangerous.
Kiss or Kill became an ‘Every Tuesday Night’ at the Garage, attracting the sort of clientele that felt they couldn’t and didn’t fit in at the “trendier” night spots in L.A., in the end though, Kiss of Kill became the trendy night spot. The promotion brought together bands who, at first, just wanted to play music and enjoy themselves. Bands like Bang Sugar Bang, The Dollyrots, The Rainman Suite, Silver Needle, Midway and The O.A.O.Ts, all played on a regular basis and they, along with the “punters”, all became a large family.
In Heaven There Is No Beer shows how the weekly promotion got too popular for its own good. More people came and they out grew venues – moving to Zen Sushi, The Echo and then finally to the Sunset Strip, a place that Kiss or Kill was against when it was initially conceived. In doing so, the original fans felt the night lost its way. The rise in popularity also caused more problems when record companies started to visit with an interest in signing some of the bands, which then caused tension between a few. The Dollyrots got a deal and they finally fell out with Bang Sugar Bang (arguably the most popular band at Kiss or Kill).
In Heaven There Is No Beer is a fantastic documentary for a number of reasons. The subject is very interesting, but the love poured into the film by Dave Palamaro is evident. Directing, filming, editing and writing; Dave has put an amazing amount of effort into making the documentary and he manages to make it all work to great effect. Dave was a band member who was right there in the thick of the action (The O.A.O.Ts) and In Heaven There Is No Beer is like his love letter to an era when he was at his happiest. It’s a memento to all the people he met during the time of Kiss or Kill, so they can look back and remember their time of crowd surfing, drinking and pogo jumping in the front row fondly.
I can honestly say, after watching Palamaro’s documentary, I wish I had managed to go to Kiss or Kill. To be part of the family, making new friends and listening to great unsigned bands. While that can now never happen, at least it has introduced me to a whole new back catalogue of music and bands, ones that I will be looking up on the internet and searching for on Ebay in hope that I can pick up their cds.
Dave Palamaro is a talented guy. Let’s hope that this isn’t his only film as we would definitely be interested in seeing what else he can come up with.
In Heaven There Is No Beer is a very interesting documentary on the success of a weekly band night called Kiss or Kill, and utterly essential viewing for fans of rock music.