Big Star's story is the stuff of rock legend, told over and over again in history, criticism, and just before the needle drops on a dusty LP. For 40 years, the Memphis rockers have been the quintessential "best band you've never heard," as their wistful, raw, grooving, down-but-never-out body of work never yielded a mainstream hit. In spite of a string of missed opportunities and plain rotten luck, or perhaps because of it, waves of rock innovators (and critics, too) made intensely personal connections with their music, turning their three albums into the bedrock of "college," "alt" and "indie" rock as we know them today. Six years in the making, the comprehensive documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me tells the whole story of the band in living color, with reels of archival footage of founders Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens, at work in the studios at Ardent and elsewhere. Interviews with fans who became musicians, too — turning into bands as diverse as The Posies, Cheap Trick, R.E.M. and The Flaming Lips — not only outline Big Star's legacy as having launched a thousand bands, but also paint a picture of how that inspiration happened.
The film opens at The Belcourt next Friday, July 19. Via the Belcourt's Twitter feed, we learned that Jody Stephens, the group's drummer and lone surviving member, will perform a short acoustic set after the 9 p.m. screening on Saturday, July 20, with help from some friends. Tickets are on sale now, and will run you $12 ($9 if you're a member). We checked in via email with The Belcourt's programming director, Toby Leonard, who tells us that the "friends" have yet to be confirmed. We'll update you as details become available, but we do know that Stephens' recent appearances in support of the doc (on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles and at Amoeba Music in San Francisco) have featured Luther Russell on acoustic guitar and Jason Hiller on upright bass.