Top 10 Greatest Concert Films

Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. Want to enjoy a concert without leaving your couch? Fortunately for you, there are plenty of flicks that allow you to do just that. Whether you’re into rock or hip-hop, old or new music, there’s something for everyone. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 rock concert documentaries. For this list, we’ve picked films that focus on the performances. We’ve excluded films you might call “rockumentaries,” which capture behind-the-scenes drama – cause that’s a list for another day. Special thanks to our users jkellis and Luke Altman for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

Top 10 Concert Films


Want to enjoy a concert without leaving your couch? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 rock concert documentaries.

For this list, we’ve picked films that focus on the performances. We’ve excluded films you might call “rockumentaries,” which capture behind-the-scenes drama – cause that’s a list for another day.

#10: “Awesome; I F***in’ Shot That” (2006)

Over the years we’ve come to expect nothing less than originality from the Beastie Boys, so it isn't a surprise that their documentary is one-of-a-kind. The film is composed of recordings from fifty audience members, which captures the same do-it-yourself attitude the band is famous for. Those with the camcorders were given the sole instruction to keep recording, no matter what, and their cameras caught the band’s high-energy performance and a cameo from Doug E. Fresh.

#9: “The Concert for Bangladesh” (1972)

We’re not sure if George Harrison knew he was launching such a legacy of philanthropy and music when he put together this concert to fundraise for victims of the Bangladesh Liberation War; but it was the first of its kind and it set a trend. With musicians like Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton performing in a super-band, the concert and CD were able to raise $12 million in proceeds, and the album later won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

#8: “Stop Making Sense” (1984)

When the Talking Heads created their documentary, they chose to take a more artistic approach: instead of focusing on crowd reactions, the camera remains focused on the band with unconventionally long shots of them playing the sets. That filming technique, and the minimal use of lighting, allowed the focus to be solely on the band’s awesome performance. The avant-garde system worked and earned them the best documentary award by the National Society of Film Critics.

#7: “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” (2005)

Part comedy show, part concert, Chappelle’s documentary is a unique hybrid that offers the best entertainment value. The movie hit theaters right before he walked away from his Comedy Central contract, so it can almost be viewed as a farewell party. Chappelle’s at his best with his comedic monologues, and with stellar performances from bands like Dead Presidents, Lauryn Hill, and Kanye West, the fan and critic adoration is more than deserved.

#6: “The Song Remains the Same” (1976)

This documentary captures Led Zeppelin playing shows at Madison Square Garden in 1973, and also includes footage from Shepperton Studios. It was a labor of love that took more than three years to complete, with the band financing it themselves. And initially, the film was panned for being self-indulgent, with the fantasy sequences drawing the most ire. Band members later spoke out against the production; but what’s most important is that today, fans and critics love it and it’s garnered a cult following.

#5: “Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii” (1972)

In a direct response to films like “Gimme Shelter” and “Woodstock” which focused on audience response, Pink Floyd did the complete opposite by performing in the ruins of Pompeii with no audience. The venue’s acoustics and the natural setting create a surreal juxtaposition to the band’s heavy rock sound. And, while the film received mixed reviews at first, the Beastie Boys, Korn, and Radiohead have all cited it as inspiration for their own music videos.

#4: “Gimme Shelter” (1970)

This documentary details one of the more explosive sets on our list, following the multiple fights which broke out during the Altamont Free Concert. The film is as much about the Rolling Stones’ performance as it is about the restless nature of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Hell’s Angels cause disruptions in the crowd, leading to chaos and the grisly stabbing death of an audience member who pulled out a gun while trying to climb on stage – all of which was caught on camera.

#3: “Metallica Through the Never” (2013)

Unlike other rock concert documentaries, this one mixes Metallica concert footage with the plotline of Trip, the roadie, running an errand for the band while he’s high. The film is visually stunning as Trip navigates the city through a riot and police opposition. Rioters begin to chase Trip for the duffel bag he possesses, the contents of which are never revealed. That unique take earned Metallica both critical and commercial success.

#2: “Woodstock” (1970)

Perhaps the most iconic of rock concert documentaries, Woodstock captures the performances of legends like The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. And we can’t forget the Jimi Hendrix rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” More than the performances, this concert film captures the spirit of the ‘60s as seen by the crowd’s participation and reaction to the music. The film was a critical and cultural success earning it the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Shine a Light” (2008)
- “Monterey Pop” (1968)
- “AC/DC: Let There Be Rock” (1980)
- “Under Great White Northern Lights” (2010)

#1: “The Last Waltz” (1976)

No stranger to the rock doc, Martin Scorsese perfected it with his first attempt. “The Last Waltz” captures the last performance of The Band, the former touring band for Bob Dylan and other musicians. In the film, The Band performs with icons like Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and Muddy Waters. Scorsese stylized their performance by starting the documentary with their encore and intercutting the performances with band member interviews, creating a memorable tribute.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite rock concert doc? For more crowd-pleasing Top 10 published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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