Thursday, March 4, 2021
Arts + Culture Champagne supernovas, spilling over

Champagne supernovas, spilling over

Playing one day only, doc 'Oasis: Supersonic' charts the '90s biggest British band's rise into infamy.

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SCREEN GRABS/ALL EARS The biggest noise of 90s Britpop, Manchester’s Oasis was briefly as massive as their hype — not to mention their self-estimation — before too much ego, overexposure, and repetitive musical bombast brought their comet crashing to ground. While they were up there, the spectacle was vastly enhanced by the dynamic between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher, erstwhile ‘council flat lads”’who’d been at each other’s throats since childhood. 

Fame only heightened their sibling rivalry, with trashed hotel rooms, open drug use, fistfights and at least one deportation (from Holland) providing ample, tabloid-ready evidence that they were obnoxious pricks even by rock-star standards. The finer feelings expressed in songs like wistful classic “Wonderwall” were hard to reconcile with the middle finger extended toward everyone and everything save slavish fans. Still, the bad-boy thing worked as theater, only heightening their mystique for a while. 

Oasis: Supersonic blends archival materials and latterday audio interviews to chronicle the five years from their founding to a 1996 commercial peak—when, among other things, they played to an extraordinary quarter-million people in just two outdoor U.K. concerts. As the Gallaghers’ long-suffering mother Pattie notes, “It all happened too quick.” Too quick for these personalities to handle, that is. 

Their personal and professional power struggle could only get worse: As another observer notes, “Noel has a lot of buttons, and Liam has a lot of fingers.” After a certain point, the latter started walking offstage mid-concert whenever he felt like it, leaving the former to take over lead vocals — which, absurdly, Liam resented. Then there was the recording-session moment where Noel took a cricket bat to his younger bro’s noggin. Yes, violence is bad. But by that point in this telling, you have no doubt the boy was asking for it.

Mat Whitecross’ elaborately assembled documentary gets a lot of mileage out of both the band’s offstage excesses and its then-seemingly-unstoppable musical success. But after spending two full hours exhaustively charting their rise, it’s rather exasperating that the film simply stops… ignoring the fact that Oasis staggered on yet another twelve years to diminishing returns, till the Brothers Gallagher simply loathed each other too much to continue. 

Without that follow-through, even this warts-and-all partial history ends up feeling like an overly “authorized” whitewash. Ultimately, it’s rather like Oasis themselves: Too bloody much of a just-pretty-good thing. Of course, diehard Britpop devotees may feel otherwise. 

Supersonic plays one night only, Wed/26, at theaters nationwide. More info here. 

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