Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think

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The Chemical BrothersDon’t Think is a concert film. Much like ‘80s staples of this kind: Duran Duran’s Arena or Culture Club’s A Kiss Across The Ocean, you are treated to a concert from start to finish, without having to queue up for anything, plus you get to sit down and no one is blocking your view. In the case of the Chemical Brothers, sitting down is a drawback to the live experience, as is the polite sound level of a movie theatre. Neither of these factors works against Don’t Think, however, which under the direction of Adam Smith—responsible for the Chemicals’ concert imagery for going on two decades—focuses on the visual aspect of a Chemicals performance as much as it does on the aural.

Filmed at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan in summer 2011, the setting lends itself wonderfully to the show. The very expanse of the space, plus the sheer number of the audience, as well as the outdoor location all act in tandem to feature the concert in its best light. Using multiple cameras, both on stage and off, Don’t Think hits all the concert film marks. The hallucinogenic effects of the music-plus-images are captured from the front, the middle and the back of the crowd. Also captured is a sense of what it’s like to be the performers, an insider look behind the bank of technology. At times there is a decided three-dimensional look to the Chemicals and their instrument set-up which makes them seem as though they are actually on a stage in front of the theatre screen. Plus there is a side-story of sorts following the experience of concertgoer Mario, a gorgeous Japanese nymphet whose reactions are as entertaining as the visuals.

The visuals are at the heart of Don’t Think. Tailor-made to fit the thrust of the music, they are equal parts varied and original. An integral part of a Chemicals’ concert experience, they are the visual embodiment of the sound. I can see the Chemical Brothers as the next generation’s Pink Floyd: inside an observatory with their music blasting and Smith’s Vegetable Vision imagery projected into the dome. Don’t Think in the round, or rather, the sphere.