Tie-Died: Rock 'n Roll's Most Deadicated Fans

Docu color

A Padded Cell Pictures and Arrowood production. Produced by Marsha Oglesby and James Deutch. Executive producers, Joseph A. Kim, Sara Sackner, Jennifer Fish. Directed by Andrew Behar. Camera (DuArt, color), Hamid Shams; editors, Behar and Sackner; music, Peter Fisg; original songs by the musicians on Deadlot; sound, Tony Carrison (Las Vegas), Dale Whitman (East Coast), Douglas Tourtelot (West Coast); associate producer, Peter Shapiro. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 28, 1995. Running time: 80 min.

Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 28, 1995–Despite a fascinating topic, Tie-Died, Rock 'n Roll's Most Deadicated Fans, is just a mildly interesting docu that follows the DeadHeads as they travel from coast to coast, following the l994 summer tour. Lack of clear center and in-depth analysis of what's undoubtedly a peculiar subculture result in a rather shapeless, overview docu that holds slight theatrical prospects.

Tie-Died is meant to celebrate the communal spirit of the “Deadicated” fans, who have been part of this unique cultural phenomenon for close to three decades. The first segments survey the immensely diverse membership: college yuppies, homeless teenagers, aging hippies who still like to get stoned, etc.

Various people are introduced, with each asked about motivation to engage in the event. An 11 year old “DeadHead” explains that “the best thing about going on tour is just being there,” and another claims that people do it find “a love vibe that you can't find anywhere else.” In contrast, a down-to-earth member says that if the DeadHead stopped touring, “I'd just have to go to work and become a 9-to-5 person like everybody else.”

Commercial aspects of the phenomenon don't escape helmer Behar. Reportedly, greedy vendors can clear upwards of $75,000 selling tie dye shirts and other products. There's some criticism by followers about being robed or busted by undercover police. Docu conveys the changing context, relating how newly enforced drug laws have affected a community heavily associated with drugs.

Problem, is Behar is so careful in representing the entire spectrum of opinions that the potentially rich material seldom leads to a coherent picture of this eccentric subculture and the meaning it holds for its devout members.

Tie-Died is somewhat enlivened by original DeadHeads songs, guitar and harmonica blues, digiridoo concert, bagpipes and drum circles. But docu isn't particularly well-crafted or edited and after half an hour or so, uninventive structure, with its snippets of interviews and one-liners, becomes repetitive and tedious.