Friday, February 5, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rock-afire Explosion

After a less than spectacular trip to Chuck E Cheese, I was inspired to finally order the DVD documentary about The Rock-afire Explosion (TRAE).  For those of you who don't know TRAE, they were the animatronic band for Showbiz Pizza Place in the 1980's (link is to an excellent fan site).  Similar to the current Chuck E Cheese animatronic band, Munch's Make Believe Band, only millions of times better.  I have said it before but The Rock-afire Explosion had so much more personality and life than the Munch's MBB (and it may just be the upkeep at my local CEC, but the band hardly moves now - they use to be lively!).  They were exciting to watch as a kid, it seemed like a real concert - dim lit room, light show, fog machine, music, and skits.It was awesome.

After the package getting misdirected by the post office, I finally received the DVD about a week late.  I was full of excitement and hope as I slid it into the DVD player.  I was disappointed.  It's not that it isn't a very interesting movie, it is.  It gives the background on the inventor and the process through which Showbiz Pizza and the Rock-afire Explosion spread across the country and ultimately disappeared...and their possible rebirth.  It is a good documentary that brought back a lot of memories from when I was a kid and shows a lot of people with passion for Billy Bob and Rock-afire to this day.  I like TRAE, a lot...but these are people who live for Rock-afire.  Yes, they a little strange but you have to admire their passion and tenacity.  I wish I had that kind of passion for something.  In the end, it was more sad than any to see the company that created TRAE to be in the rundown condition it was in...but the fact that it is still there and there has been a minor resurgence of fans that there was a slightly optimistic twinge at the end.  It was a good movie, I was just hoping for something a little different.

I was hoping to see more of the original show programming that I encountered as a child.  It had a few of the skits but it didn't have any of the musical numbers.  I am sure this was do music licensing and the documentary producers not wanting 99% of their budget to go to the obtain the musical rights.  I understand this, but I do think that means that the documentary was missing something.  It is like watching those shows like E! True Hollywood Story or something where they go over an actors entire career and they talk about all these great scenes and movies that the actor was in but they never show any clips because they don't want to pay the licensing.  It gets the job done, but it is a shadow of what it could be.  Still, I would recommend it to anyone who remembers Showbiz Pizza and The Rock-afire Explosion fondly.  It is good to relive some of the memories that you had as a child but also interesting to learn about the behind the scenes dealing that led to it's demise.  The movie did give me a deep sense of respect for Rock-afire creator Aaron for sticking to his beliefs and dreams (although not his business sense).

Two of the main people in the movie - Aaron Fechter (inventor of Rock-afire) and Chris Thrash (super-fun and enthusiast) are still working with The Rock-afire Explosion and even programming some new songs for videos.  This is my favorite done to date:

The Rock-afire Exlposion doing NIN's 1,000,000

There are many others - Usher, Shakira, The Arcade Fire, etc... The White Stripes' Conquest is also particularly charming (although I wish it was a full video).  Other fans are making videos too, but these by Aaron and Chris are usually much higher quality, incorporating all aspects of the Rock-afire stage.  If you want to bid on the next song that Aaron and/or Chris create you can go to Aaron's site here

1 comment:

Thad said...

Well that was disappointing.