Wednesday night, for one night only, the Mat Whitecross directed Oasis documentary Supersonic hits theatres all across the world. I’ll be seeing the film at the ArcLight in Hollywood and haven’t been this excited about a music-related film in a long while.
The documentary comes from the producer behind the critically-acclaimed Amy Winehouse documentary and the trailer for this looks impressive. It traces the massive trajectory of Oasis through the first few years of their careers, ending at their epic two-day concerts at Knebworth House in front of 250,000 people over two days. The concerts were such an affair that one in every 20 Britons tried to get tickets.
The film focuses on the relationship between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher. The two knew how to push each other’s buttons, which went on for years before it ultimately led to the band’s breakup in 2009. The two don’t talk to each other and the footage was obtained by them being interviewed separately for about 20 hours or so, going back and forth so stories could be corroborated.
When approached about the documentary, the Gallaghers agreed but didn’t think there was enough archival footage to make it a legitimate endeavor. They quickly found out they were just wasted out of their minds most of the time and didn’t even realize that cameras were rolling around them at almost all times.
Some background – Oasis was the very first concert I ever attended, in 2005 when I was 15. My allowance was my age per month and I didn’t have a car, so getting to concerts was an impossibility at this time. A good friend of mine Andrew, who now fronts his own awesome power pop band The Tet Holiday, asked if I wanted to join a group of his friends to see Oasis at the Shoreline Ampitheater in Mountain View, California. This is well outside San Francisco but we made a trip of it. I remember the Oasis live film Familiar to Millions playing on a dashboard television as we drove to the show.
The first of two opening acts was Kasabian, a band I still enjoy seeing these days. It was around the time of their first album and their brief set was memorable. Next up was Aussie rockers Jet, whose first album was a favorite of mine in high school, though they’re not remembered fondly by critics. Both set the stage nicely for Oasis.
I had never been to a concert and this was more like an event. As they took the stage to a tape of “Fuckin’ in the Bushes,” the crowd lost their minds. They were touring in support of Don’t Believe the Truth, which I believe is their most underrated record of the bunch. A few songs in they launched into the lead single “Lyla” and it was clear that Oasis had just as much oomph as they ever did, albeit with a more straight-forward rocking sound.
One moment that will forever stand out to me among the hundreds of concerts I’ve been able to go to came midway through the set. This show took place on September 11, but there was no reference to the events of that day from four years earlier by the band. However, this was also happening while Hurricane Katrina wrecked part of the country, and Oasis actually acknowledged it. During the chorus of “Live Forever,” Noel sang his part as “New Orleans is gonna live forever” in one of the choruses. I got goosebumps.
The run of songs to close their set “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova” and “Rock N Roll Star” had everybody singing along. It was my first show and Oasis were such real-life jackasses that we weren’t sure they’d even come and do an encore, but luckily they came back for four more songs. What came was “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and a killer cover of The Who’s “My Generation.” When I saw The Who perform this at Desert Trip a few weeks back, I couldn’t help but think back to that Oasis rendition in the moment.
One crazy thing happened to me at SXSW this year. I was taking a Lyft back one night to where I was staying. My driver was British and I talked to him and Oasis came up. I said my first ever concert was that Oasis show at Shoreline. The driver said he was at that same exact show! Odds of that have to be in the millions.
I’ve seen Noel twice in the time the band has been broken up. One of the top five best concerts I’ve ever been to was when my girlfriend at the time won tickets to see Noel and his High Flying Birds in 2012 at the Orpheum in SF. We had balcony seats but somehow managed to sneak onto the floor and into the first row. It was a concert that felt more like a soccer match, with flags draped across the crowd, all drunk off their asses in the happiest, merriest ways. Slowed-tempo versions of “Supersonic” and “Talk Tonight” were supreme highlights.
The most recent time I saw Noel was on my actual birthday at Shaky Knees in 2015. I managed to get all the way to the rail by telling people it was my birthday and they all let me pass them towards the front. The singalong for “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was one of the absolute best birthday presents I ever received.
I have very high expectations for this documentary. But more than that, I hope the reception to it is enough to spur the brothers Gallagher back together for an Oasis reunion somewhere down the line. There’s some thought from people I know that Oasis isn’t as big in the States as they actually were. They ruled rock radio and played massive arenas all over the country, and all over the world. Their first two albums are some of the best rock records produced in the last 25 years. Their output after that featured some gems here and there. They’d be a much sought after headliner for any top-tier festival. If it happens, I hope to be at that first gig back.