Dig! ★★★½

Between 1995 and 2002, documentarian Ondi Timoner interviewed two distinctive bands who saw various sides of success. She used a type of DIY cinéma vérité approach that was quite bracing, and captured their tempestuous on-and-offstage antics. For that alone, Dig! is a rambunctious, energetic behind-the-scenes rockumentary that reveals how The Dandy Warhols gained a large fanbase, as The Brian Jonestown Massacre faded into drug-addled obscurity.

Meanwhile, it also chronicles the friendship/rivalry between the band's founders Courtney Taylor and Anton Newcombe. It's also narrated by Taylor, whom interestingly, believes that Newcombe is a neo-psychedelic musical genius whose talent is above his own. I don't think this convinced me of BJM's gushing virtuosity, though, despite generally enjoying their hazy ode to 60's culture in songs likes "Anemone" and "Servo". However, they crafted an onslaught of albums in such close succession, and dabbled with numerous instruments to experiment their sound.

Still, its off-the-cuff enjoyment is so purely anecdotal, that I was endeared to just go along for the ride. From the revelation that BJM's "Thank God For Mental Illness" album only cost $17 to make, to the Dandys playing "Bohemian Like You" and "We Used to Be Friends" to sold-out crowds (while BJM gets into another on-stage fight.) There's also the hilarious sequence where a French cop makes Taylor's band pay for a cannabis fine that's "equivalent to four Dandys t-shirts, and we kept the grass". Or seeing Newcombe hand out copies of "Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth" at the Dandys venue. Wild.

Then, of course, is Newcombe whose self-destructive egotism had me cowering away from the screen. Besides his heroin addiction, he abuses band mates, crowds and managers, while venturing on profanity-laden soliloquies about selling out to record labels. The reason for BJM's sabotage, solely on Newcombe, reaches fever pitch after all the footage that Timoner obtained. As percussionist Joel Gion says, "I wasted four years of my fucking life on this." The irony: he's still apart of BJM til' this day. For guitarist Matt Hollywood, the bruises by Anton were justifiably enough for him to leave for good.

Standard talking-head descriptions by Peter Hayes, Adam Shore and Miranda Lee Richards offer little besides what's energetically visualized by Timoner. Except for a few musings on the make-or-break music biz, the interviews are almost superfluous. What oddly satisfied me more is seeing the next violent occurrence at a BJM gig. Even fans went there for that particularly reason, to see what Newcombe would unearth next. From tackling a bandmate, blustering his "talent", being thrown fruit at, kicking a heckler in the head, it's all caught on Timoner's electrifying purview.

Ultimately, what I really gathered from Dig! was its success-to-fallout juxtaposition between both bands. It makes for a grimly amusing, yet grievously karmic, parallel throughout these seven years. The Dandys gain international success, receive their limousine escorts and elated fans singalong to every word. BJM wallows in a fetid apartment as their founder goes on vicious diatribes about those who sell out. Far out. We used to be friends, no doubt.