Frontman Danko Jones describes his eponymous band as playing “the KISS version of rock ‘n’ roll,” rather than the Gories, Dirtbombs, or Oblivians. It’s big, dumb riff-heavy, with a frontman cockier than Gene Simmons could ever hope to be.
The story of Danko Jones is told with lots and lots of live footage, which is absolutely essential for a band such as they are. For all of their recorded output, the trio is one of those bands for whom the cliche “you have to see them live” truly applies. Yes, the songs are strong works of pure rock power, but the show is where it’s at. It’s no coincidence that the documentary takes its name from a song that the band only plays live, and has never recorded.
Granted, this isn’t an objective documentary. It’s packaged with a short fictional film, and all of the band’s videos. As an official band doc, Bring On the Mountain is a slightly glossy production, rather than a “warts and all” affair. Although, as each successive drummer departs, you start to wonder as to whether or not coming in as a third person to such a long-term partnership as that had between Danko Jones and bassist John Calabrese might be a difficult thing.
What you have is the story of a band that succeeded through incessant touring and hard work. There have been bumps in the road for Danko Jones — the aforementioned Spinal Tap-esque string of drummers, a detached retina, and getting rejected by record labels Get Hip, In the Red, and Matador because they wanted to own their own masters, and essentially just get a distribution deal. Still, there are no “tragedies” as such. It’s the Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, on a smaller scale, without any deaths.
Unfortunately, Bring On the Mountain drags in the last half hour or so. Tour, record, repeat is the format of the doc, and it wears the viewer after a bit. Danko Jones is so entertaining and aware of what they do, you don’t mind so much for most of it, but by the end, you’re hoping for something like one full song, rather than another example of stage banter.
Thankfully, when you’re done, there are 19 music videos on the DVD awaiting your attention.