Gringo Star: Hurry Up and Wait
The art of “making it” as an independent musician is very different from the seemingly magical world of top 40 artists and world-touring, arena filling groups and acts. This is not to say that those who have achieved commercial success have not worked hard, but rather that success as a musician should not be based solely on your renown or riches. For Gringo Star, proclaimed to be one of the hardest working bands in Atlanta, GA (and perhaps arguably in the country), success has taken many forms.
The film opens with a magical moment for the band: playing live to a massive television audience on Dutch late night show “De Wereld Draait Door”. During the audio recorded from this performance we are introduced to the members of Gringo Star: Brothers Nick and Peter Furgiuele, Pete Delorenzo, and former member Matt McCalvin. After a brief glimpse into the pre-tour lives of the members we are treated to some commentary on the group from friends, family, producers, and publicists. From the positive input it becomes apparent that these guys are the real deal. They are dedicated to touring and progressing as musicians in spite of very little commercial success.
A travel montage delivers the band and crew to Europe in April of 2009, leading them to their first mainland European tour in support of …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Peter notes their optimism in the face of uncertainty on tour, expressing that they always just try to do the best they can and have fun. The tour takes them all over, beginning in Germany and moving through much of Eastern Europe.
This middle segment of the film is very insightful and exciting, mixing interviews with Trail of Dead members, live performances (on film and audio) and moments captured of Gringo Star during their grand adventure. Several cuts of their live shows really display the talent of this group as the musicians take turns on each of the instruments, exhibiting their own strengths in songwriting and meshing it with the other members’ influence. A special highlight comes during their performance of “No Man” on the German show Rockpalast.
After many well-attended shows on this initial tour, the band joins as the opening act to The Black Lips‘ tour with Mika Miko. This tour, moving throughout the UK, turns out to be less successful for the band as they grow ever-weary of life on the road. However it is not without its bright moments. Their UK tour manager, Ian Flavill, does a lot to help the guys with logistics and transportation, adding worry-free assistance to the group. The guys have a happy reunion in Bacup, England with their old friend James Thomas (known as the Rock Father). Refueled on friendship and fine cooking, the guys embark on the last leg of their tour, headlining two weeks of shows on their own. For this final segment, their publicist Jo Murry joins them on the road and we find that it is due greatly to her support and effort that they have been able to tour. This fantastic relationship, based on admiration and respect, is just one of the many driving forces behind the group.
Returning from their prolonged tour schedule is rough on the band members, and it is revealed at this point that Matt decided to leave the band upon their return. The band continues on however, recruiting friend and former tour-mate Chris Kaufman to fill the spot, landing a producer for their next record, and planning to return to Europe for another tour.
Hurry Up and Wait may not be a film about your favorite band, or even a band you’ve ever heard of, but it’s a very honest and humble take on touring and existing as an independent band. Every musician cutting their teeth just to share their art can relate to this story and hopefully find the confidence shared by Gringo Star to keep living their dream, even if they never “make it big”. Give it a chance and enjoy!