Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde
Bleeding Audio was such a fantastic way to start Slamdance 2021! Chelsea Christer’s doc about The Matches is one of those always desired and rarely found unexpected festival surprises. The nostalgia factor, the late 1990s and 2000s vibes made me adore the experience even more. While on the surface, you might think, this is one of those self-serving documentaries about a band, I found it to be more than that.
I was unfamiliar with the rise and fall of The Matches before this experience. In all honesty, I knew little about them and it was only after I experienced Bleeding Audio and listened to their albums that I got a full appreciation for what this was. My hook into the documentary was Mark Hoppus, of Blink 182 fame, one of my favorite bands while I was in middle school. Hoppus served as a producer on The Matches second and third albums (Decomposer and A Band in Hope) and it was through his eyes as well as the experiences of members of the Matches that I started to understand what they were really all about.
Originating in Oakland, CA The Matches started like many other bands, in high school. They predominantly played in local gigs called Loud, Live, and Local (L3). A community formed around the L3 scene and to this day band members claim that this community atmosphere was something unique and special.
Getting signed to a label was only one part of the equation. During the early 2000’s music industry profits started to dwindle and the music industry was at a crossroads. How would they distribute, market, sell, and promote artists in the age of Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing. This was one of the many reasons for the untimely demise of The Matches.
What this documentary did so well was remove the rose-tinted glasses you often associate with fame. Instead, it offered a more realistic perspective of life on tour, studio time, and the band’s relationship with their scummy manager Miles. At the end of the day, the Matches kept touring to survive never quite making as much money as you’d think they might’ve.
By 2008, album sales had eroded and the band members were starting to consider new paths. After 10 years together, even though it was hard to admit the band was not what they wanted anymore. Many of the members moved on from music before playing a sold out reunion tour in 2019. The heartbreaking part of this story was that their manager never registered their songs with Broadcast Music Inc.(BMI) this meant that band members were not making royalties on any of their songs.
This documentary was a story of what could’ve been. The Matches had everything to get to the next level and be remembered alongside of Blink-182, Green Day, and other pop-punk bands of that era. But if you ask any of the band members if they’d go back and change anything in their trajectory, I reckon that they’d say that they wouldn’t change a thing. Their reunion concert showed what the Matches were really all about. A band that was deeply rooted in their community with a unique connection to their fans. As the documentary so eloquently put it “any artist that creates something that changes someone’s life means they made it”.
I’d also recommend checking out their music on Spotify or wherever you get your music. Point Me Toward the Morning, Chain Me Free, Audio Blood, Wake The Sun, and Salty Eyes were some of my favorites.
Bleeding Audio Trailer
Buy a ticket to see Bleeding Audio at the Slamdance 2021 Film Festival
You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on Letterboxd, Twitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.