CINEMA: What Is And What Should Never Be

BY JESSE LUNDY LED ZEP CORRESPONDENT So I’ve been looking forward to going to see the Led Zeppelin movie Celebration Day since I saw that it was going to be playing in Philadelphia. I broke my rule of never stepping foot into the Riverview Theater on Delaware Ave–recently reviewed by Albert Y. on as “The absolutely worst place you can ever imagine you could go to attempt to watch a movie.” I did it for the Zep.

When I got there, about 75 people were already in the theater. Lots of graybeard classic-rock looking dudes who surely fought bravely in the arena-rock wars of the early 70s.. It seemed they had been tailgating before the movie. After a creepy heavy-handed loop of corporate promotion, the lights dim and the movie comes on. Hoots of approval ring out in the theater. “Fuck yeah.” But from the first note of “Good Times, Bad Times,” it’s clear that the sound isn’t working. There was no surround sound and the volume was very low, like the music was pumping out of headphones that are sitting on a table.  In perfect Philadelphia dialect, a dude yells, “Turn it da fuck UP!” Another guy charges the projection booth. I couldn’t hear the music over the sound of chewing on my Mike & Ikes. 

A drunk dude stomps down the stairs and out is out the door. He was our non-elected representative, speaking out for the sonically oppressed. He returns two minutes later and reports that management told him “that’s as loud as it goes.” Revolution was in the air. People started yelling, “I’m getting a fucking refund!” and “Bull-SHIT!” I waited around for the beginning of the second song to see if it would suddenly improve, but it didn’t.  On my way out of the theater, somebody who seemed to be in charge came back in. It was a ray of hope. He told us they realized the problem and were going to turn it up. Finally! But when they turned up the volume, it was like going from two to three on a TV. Completely pointless. I left and got a refund, along with a bunch of other people. While waiting in line to get our money back, we talked about our surround sound systems at home. On my way out the door, I heard someone advise a manager that they might want to send security up into the theater.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Funny, we had a similar experience at the press screening Monday at the Rave in University City. A Led Zep concert film without loudness is like a strip club without nudity, like a war without guns. What’s the fucking point? Plus, some tool kept shushing us. Geez, doesn’t anyone remember laughter?