"Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story"
- Article by: Casey Stohrer | Photos courtesy of LTL, Emile Bacilla, Joel Brodsky
- Posted: 06/04/2012
Imagine getting frisky with a leather-clad rocker underneath a stage--your mind in a haze, thanks to a cocaine-and-booze cocktail. All of a sudden, The Who breaks into an explosive set right above your head, interrupting your moment of bliss and jarring you back to reality. Your fun isn’t over though--you merely return to the show and continue enjoying your night.
For those of you who were coming of age in the early 70’s, this might have been one of the many rites of passage you experienced. For residents of Detroit, this probably happened at the Grande Ballroom.
Directed and produced by Tony D’Annunzio, “Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story,” is a documentary that revives a forgotten world in rock 'n roll history, the epicenter of the 1960’s Detroit music scene: the Grande Ballroom. Using a Sony 24P HDCAM and over 60 hours of interviews, D’Annunzio chronicles the venue’s fascinating backstory; its crucial social, cultural, and political roles; and the artists that gave the Grande Ballroom its impactful reputation.
Geographically located in the gritty, industrial, American heartland of Detroit, Michigan, the Grande Ballroom might as well have been situated somewhere between the Fillmore, the Hollywood Palladium, and CBGB. The film examines the political and social climate that Detroit was enduring in the late 60’s, which, in turn, contributed to the style of music that was bred at the Grande Ballroom. Detroit-based bands like Iggy and the Stooges, Amboy Dukes and, most notably, MC5 are featured, as well as more well-known acts like The Who, Cream and Janis Joplin. All of these serve to demonstrate just how influential and relevant the venue was in its heyday.
Interviews with personalities reaching from John Sinclair to Roger Daltrey, to a spaced-out “Grande groupie,” (who lustily relates a story in which she and Janis Joplin share a bottle of SoCo and check out boys' behinds), underscore the all-encompassing role of the Grande Ballroom, proving that it was more than “just a venue.” The material ranges from serious talks on cultural turmoil to tales of hilarious debauchery, and the particulars remain entertaining throughout. It presents the Grande Ballroom as a place where one could truly enjoy the merits of “rock 'n roll, dope and fucking in the streets,” (as the MC5 would say). It also served as a safe-haven for the younger generation that identified with the “west coast attitude” and atmosphere, rather than the “ticking time bomb” energy of political conservatives that were in charge of the city.
For those not fortunate enough to have lived during that era, D’Annunzio effectively shares that experience with viewers of his film, making “Louder Than Love” a true success as a documentary. The film made its debut at the Nashville Film Festival in late April, but is traveling across the U.S. to be screened at additional festivals. For more information or additional viewing opportunities, visit their website: http://thegrandeballroomstory.com/
"Louder Than Love" Official Trailer