Tour Without End

Laura Parnes

2018 | 01:32:00 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Feature Length, Music, Politics, Travel

Tour Without End is an experimental hybrid feature-length video work that casts real-life musicians, artists, and actors as fictional bands on tour; the piece evolves into a cross-generational commentary on contemporary culture and politics in the Trump era. Shot over the course of four years between 2014-18 at over 15 DIY music spaces in and around NYC, Tour Without End functions as a time capsule — made more apparent by the shuttering of many of its locations due to NYC’s rapid gentrification.

The work’s multitude of characters are legendary performers in the downtown NYC arts scene, including: The Wooster Group founder Kate Valk, Jim Fletcher (New York City Players), Lizzi Bougatsos (Gang Gang Dance), Kathleen Hanna (The Julie Ruin), Brontez Purnell (The Younger Lovers), Eileen Myles, Alexandra Drewchin (Eartheater), Nicole Eisenman, K8 Hardy, Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre) Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), JD Samson (MEN), Gary Indiana, Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Rachel Mason, Tom McGrath, Matthew Asti (MGMT), Becca Blackwell, Christen Clifford, Alessandra Genovese (Crush), Rogelio Ramos (Love Pig), Kenya Robinson (Cheeky LaShae), and Neon Music (Youth Quake).

Shot in real environments and situations, the core group of players improvise based on semi-scripted scenes. Many of these performers are legendary in the downtown NYC arts scene, and become archetypes playing archetypes. As the players move in and out of their real-life identities and roles as fictionalized characters, the piece moves in and out of non-linear narrative, complicating the work as historical document.

The work revels in the sometimes hilarious, but always complex, band dynamics that the characters endure while touring, collaborating, and aging, in a youth-driven music industry. The sometimes self-indulgent bubble the bands exist within is burst when, while on tour, they attend the protests surrounding the Republican convention. Drawing connections between past and present, the film draws from the current political climate and the rockumentary tradition of This Is Spinal Tap and Medium Cool to assert that no one exists outside of politics.

"Following the fictional band Munchausen through New York’s alternative music scene, Laura Parnes’s satirical doc-fiction hybrid Tour Without End chronicles a milieu pinched by local hyper-gentrification and spun by national politics. Supported by a veritable who’s who of downtown luminaries (Eileen Myles, Gary Indiana, Kathleen Hanna, K8 Hardy, and more) playing versions of themselves, Munchausen (played by the The Wooster Group’s Kate Valk and New York City Players’ Jim Fletcher) serve as our guide to a contemporary DIY world as vibrant as it is precarious (of the 14 venues featured in the film, at least four have been forced to shutter). Elder statesman of New York bohemia, Munchausen thread the needle between several decades of New York art subcultures, mixing with an intergenerational group of artists and taking a long view of a shared culture dominated by the young. Shot between 2014 and early 2018, the film never leaves the political situation far from the frame, with our players entering the eye of the storm on a brief sojourn to Cleveland during the RNC, and rallying the community in the post-election spiral, exemplified by a show stopping performance by The Julie Ruin the night after Trump’s election. Between performances by bands like Eartheater, Shannon Funchess, Macy Rodman and Youthquake, Parnes stages semi-scripted scenes, creating a portrait of a living artistic community; gossiping backstage, humoring tone-deaf marketing pitches, enduring patronizing interviewers, comforting one another, enjoying each other’s work, and attempting to make sense of our increasingly disturbing historical moment.”

— Nellie KillianFilm Comment, September-October Issue, 2018

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Sarasota Film Festival
Sarasota, FL

Exhibitions + Festivals

The Kitchen, New York NY, 2018

Lightbox Film Center, Philadelphia PA, 2018

Basilica Hudson, Hudson NY, 2018

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