La Dispute - Tiny Dots [Documentary] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

La Dispute

Tiny Dots [Documentary] (2015)


It's so odd seeing the love for La Dispute die down here at the 'org, which initially is what drove me to them. I guess I caught "The Wave" late and people moved on with life. Then again, maybe they ran their course. To me though, La Dispute maintains something that few bands still do. Something real and something that as cheesy as it gets at times, belongs in music. Tiny Dots is a fitting name for this documentary as it connects and catalogs all the intricate steps the band took in marrying genres (post-hardcore, emo etc) in a brand of poetry/wordspeak that few can imitate these days. Like them or not, they're a unique bunch and a band whose personal and intimate stories I draw many parallels with. Niall Coffey (director) blends in so many aspects of the band - from the candid interviews to the live performances on their recent tours (London gets quite a bit of play) to their process, particularly in crafting 2014's Rooms of the House - which reminds me of Thursday's DVD - Kill The House Lights. It's a peek behind the curtain that ends up being quite a sentimental ride for one of the most genuine and powerful underground/DIY bands I've ever listened to.

The first 30 minutes chats up the writing process, sequestering in a cabin during the winter for Rooms, and how they toyed from record to record. It delves into the wide age range of fans as well, from very young to very old, all coming to the band for solace. All flocking to the basement shows in dozens and eventually to European venues by the hundreds. It touches on the band shifting gears and maturing with careers and family - away from music. The hour-and-a-half ride traverses the settled days of Wildfire, while dropping back even more to the inexperienced and brash days of Somewhere At The Bottom.... while eventually focusing on the 2014 record, which proved quite trying given that life beyond music was now reality rather than a distinct possibility. The behind-the-scenes into the band, their lineup changes, their origin and the idiosyncrasies on the road (and in missing home) really adds a lot of layers for fans who stuck to their Grand Rapids messages. Throw in the grainy, nostalgic footage from their younger days and it's got something for loyalists of old and for fans who jumped on ship later like me. The pressures experienced on Rooms really resonates with me given my personal trials and tribulations and how objects tied to memories of an absent lover really drove me from the rooms of my house to the point where I had to leave. Opening this documentary with "Stay Happy There" really hit home for me, as it's one their best-written and overall, most fucking moving of tracks. And again, it really echoes so much of the last few years of my life recovering from a broken engagement. Jordan Dreyer and team express themselves, not only on their musical merit, but in the realm of art on records, from photography to artwork to well, conceptualizing any visuals that breathe more life into their music (and yes, including merch) -- and you get why as they reveal and open up more and more. They really delve into their fears such as writer's block and depression patterns in recent years. And it's quite endearing to see how striving for perfection really fucked with them. It's a great human element captured on film.

The bonds of friendship and family alleviate all stresses though and hearing about their homecoming really brightens things up, showing they're a sum of all parts as they completed this record, connecting with each other and fans online to continue building the community. An ongoing family tree of strangers, progressing and sharing dreams, sweat and thoughts of love. "Andria" is another live performance that acts as an interlude as La Dispute chats up their meticulous and calculated style of displaying how human experiences, emotive experiences and tons of other relatable stories link us together. There's a lot about the theme of moving on and the slow-mo here, well it visually pulls you in. The rough cuts to scenes of more polished cinematography, the compositing, the whole nine matches (tonally) the vibe melancholy which the band seems steeped in. It frames everything for that perfect get-to-know you setting. Subtle nuances fall in place with moods set by smiles and lighting, which you see more of in the testimonials; and again, encapsulated in slow-mo of performances. There are also some cliched but big moments of solidarity from Touche Amore, Pianos Become The Teeth as well as their CSR work with Teenage Cancer Trust but what stands out is the impact they possess as they dive out their comfort zones into places like Russia and Singapore. 

"We've bled together and I think it's a special thing to have that relationship with anybody. That's family," Jordan highlights as he speaks on Kevin's (guitarist) departure, which is a tear-jerker made for their hardcore fans. But then the way this farewell is made about the fans and not the band shows how warm the group is. Not just because of the depth to their lyricism but because of their captivating essence, the thank you's and the inspiration that we need more of in this world. One fans sums it up at the end and it's the best summary I could think of - "You guys make it so that some of us can get out of bed." That says it all...